Jobless workers still seeking answers

LIHU‘E — Since the Associated Press reported on the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations’ outdated computer system on Feb. 9, many Kaua‘i residents remain frustrated by the lack of communication from DLIR and are still waiting for their extended benefits.

Hawai‘i had the nation’s highest unemployment rate in December, the DLIR reported.

DLIR’s Director Anne Perreira-Estaquio told the AP “The department’s information-technology infrastructure is so old that rushing the work could crash the entire system, causing payment delays for more claimants.

“We don’t have programmers who actually understand the computer language used to program this application, “ Perreira-Eustaquio said.

Then, on Feb. 11, Perreira-Estaquio announced her department had completed system updates to handle the delayed extension of the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program this week, as reported by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Richard Foree of Kilauea was furloughed from The Dolphin Restaurant in Hanalei during the pandemic, and was receiving unemployment benefits until they were exhausted in December.

“I’m hoping to get back to work this summer,” Foree said. “But I may not even be back to work then. I am just trying to figure out like everyone else. We’ve been waiting since mid-December. It’s been about seven or eight weeks now.”

Foree is one of several Kaua‘i residents who read the AP article and is unsure when he would be receiving the extended benefits.

“What’s going on?” asked Foree. “If we know it’s two months because when in that article they said the system is so antiquated. I think they’re trying to find people that know that code. They got to go slowly not to crash the whole thing. And he said in the way she wrote, she says something somewhat vague, but that it’s going to be, I think, a couple or several more months.

“And that was shocking. I mean, if they know a month ago it’s going to be four months or something working on it, then put something out on their website that it’s going to take this much time. So if you don’t receive anything, don’t worry. But everybody worries because they don’t even provide that information,” said Foree.

Daiva Friedrich of Hanapepe said she and her husband also waited for a period of time in between March and December of last year.

“Unable to contact them by telephone or email, offices closed,” Friedrich said. “Unable to receive benefits for at least eight weeks when applied in March. Unable to receive extension (benefits) for six weeks since December — my husband is still waiting. Employers confirmed sending in the required forms every week with my name on it as an employee. When I emailed UI asking to confirm they are receiving the form there was no reply and thus no answer as to why benefits were not deposited.”

Friedrich’s experience brings to light to how frustrating the whole process is for those who are unemployed and trying to file claims to survive during the pandemic.

“The system is antiquated, and reading the newspaper of how many millions of the CARE funds had been put into the system, it became very stressful, the fact we were doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results, which if you read this definition in the dictionary the word that matches is ‘insanity,’” Friedrich said. “Most of the community of Kaua‘i live paycheck to paycheck, and being of the working class having to wait the duration that many, many claimants did for two months (average) is extremely stressful and felt very heartless.”

The DLIR reported that, since April of 2020 when unemployment hit 149,900 applicants statewide, it did decrease to 58,600 applicants in December of 2020 for nonseasonal jobs. For seasonal jobs there were 150,900 unemployed applicants in April of 2020, and that figure decreased to 60,700 unemployed applicants in December of 2020.

On Kaua‘i, there are roughly 72,000 residents, of which 35,550 were employed in 2019, according to Census figures. The non-seasonal jobs in April of 2020 saw 12,550 unemployed applicants, and that number dropped 4,200 applicants in December of 2020.

For more information, see labor.hawaii.gov/.

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Stephanie Shinno, features, education, business, and community reporter can be reached at 245-0424 or sshinno@thegardenisland.com.

9 Comments
  1. Nepotism February 14, 2021 4:11 am Reply

    Working at its finest moments. It exposes how clueless state and county employees are.

    The gene pool can only go as far as their families undereducated stone aged methodologies.

    How many employees work at the unemployment office in the state?

    It doesn’t take 5 minutes to file a person record for the extension so they can do at least 10 claimants an hour. That’s at least 80 claims a day times 5 days so an average of 400 a week per state unemployment office.

    What’s the problem?

    How many unemployed on Kauai?

    Notice that they left that out of the article and put the large numbers (Oahu and rest of t he state).

    Audits have shown in the past how inefficient county and state workers in Hawaii are. Substandard and nepotism working during the hours, days, and weeks that people need it the most.


  2. J.D. February 14, 2021 6:38 am Reply

    Open up the Island and let the people go back to work.


  3. The Big Kahuna February 14, 2021 6:40 am Reply

    Recall the Mayor, picket his office, Let people know this is no longer acceptable. Kauai is becoming the welfare island, attracting homeless like flies on S—. Being safe yet broke is no solution. UI is the safety net. Perhaps the Mayor can take some of the slush cash and start manually helping those in need. Food banks dont pay the rent, mtg payment, kids clothes.

    Demand the council open the island or take this action to a vote. The Mayor is not qualified to lead.


  4. I saw a Vampire once February 14, 2021 7:34 am Reply

    I think this is great. Only in America. The first amendment assures is of free speech and capitalism. If you’re a republican, this gives us the right to make more money than our classmates. And to be more popular than them in front of our peers. And not to mention to be more rich than our high school quarterback. This is the American dream. To make it popular and richer than our peers in front of them too. This was always the issue after high school. So if you are richer than your peers of high school, great. Welcome to America. I hope all of your dreams come true. To be richer in material wealth than that jock is your only desire. Make it happen and rub it in their faces. This is the 1st amendment right. Go with that thought and make America for what it is. Opportunity.


  5. Sea Sonal February 14, 2021 9:00 am Reply

    Aloha Stephanie Shinno,

    Would you explain in a comment, what is a seasonal worker, we don’t even remember that term even when the plantations were large employers.

    While you did make it clear that in 2019 there were 35,500 people employed out of 72,000 residents.

    Is it correct to say that 36,500 people who were not working, were the youth from birth thru High school, + or – those at KCC (college), the retired, disabled, independently wealthy, those on welfare, those homeless who eek by with minimal survival, and the few talented enough to live off their own gardens perhaps added to by hunting and fishing?

    So if right now only 8,350 are unemployed, down from 12,550 unemployed,since things have only gotten worse with the Quarantine and job loss, have the difference in unemployed which has gone down 4,200 people mean that they have lost their unemployment benefits and are in the “starving to death” category? The “Starving To Death” category means people losing their house rental, or their home mortgage, their car or truck, no job, maybe no food stamps, and what do these families do with nothing.

    Just what do We do with the cause of this catastrophe, the Quarantine, that the Mayor thinking he is the Savior of the Sick with their SELF INFLICTED chronic degenerative end of life diseases, would destroy young families and Some of Their Lives, to protect the already diseased seniors who have End of Life diseases, and are what must be foolishly taking End of Life prescription drugs, just waiting for their final Aloha potentially delivered from the yearly virus, will be the Straw that Broke the Camel’s Back that will end their life.

    Who is any Mayor, who would destroy the lives (suicide) and the incomes of those families sent to RUIN BY THE QUARANTINE, in exchange for those who have lived their lives and who self inflicted themselves with their end of life elderly diseases.

    After all we have many seniors who do not have end of life diseases, who during their life did not consume alcohol, tobacco, and non-nutrient food, who did not and do not foolishly take prescription drugs like eating candy.

    Those seniors and those younger who respected their lives are living healthy today, and who are in an unhealthy dilemma can switch to a healthy lifestyle today. Healthy people do not take prescription drugs nor do they have to participate in the medical disease system, which requires one to wait until they are sick and diseased before seeking medical after the fact disease care.

    Being healthy is an every day effort healthy effort of Sun Water Air Rest Exercise and eating only live natural food fresh from the source with no chemical additives or sugar.

    Sugar feeds infection and inflammation, inflammation accompanies all disease. Develop self control and avoid all alcohol, tobacco, and drugs of any kind, so many already do, why don’t you.

    Health is your responsibility, read the labels on your foods and buy non chemical foods and sugar added foods.

    Seek out a qualified Health Coach and begin to change your life.

    We do not know who this Aida Ersoy is who writes articles for the Garden Island, but we need to hear from her and others like her on a daily basis as her advice has always been solid.

    Besides structural disturbance to our body’s computer, the nervous system, what you eat and what is your lifestyle are the make it or break it of your health, life, and active longevity.


  6. randy kansas February 14, 2021 11:24 am Reply

    The state unemployment software is out of date, and so are all of these numbers…..what are the current unemployment numbers?


  7. Everythingisawesome February 14, 2021 6:20 pm Reply

    “We don’t have programmers who actually understand the computer language used to program this application, “ Perreira-Eustaquio said.

    It has been posited, that coding is so easy, even a coal miner can do it.


  8. Frikas February 14, 2021 7:35 pm Reply

    One year of this and they still can’t get it together


  9. WAVE February 15, 2021 12:03 pm Reply

    IF YOURE A MOUSE GUESS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU TAKE THE FREE CHEESE

    DONT CHASE THE FREE CHEESE !!! THE SECRET IS THAT WORKING REALLY IS MORE FUN THAN TRYING TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO NOT WORK.

    HOME DEPOT AND MANY OTHER BUSINESSES ARE HIRING

    IN THE USA YOU DO NOT HAVE TO CHOOSE TO BE A MOUSE


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