$700M Paid by Hawai’i to U.S. Treasury for Unemployment Benefits

The state of Hawai’i’s Department of Labor and Industrial Relations today announced it paid $700 million to the US Department of the Treasury for advances it has received to pay regular unemployment insurance benefits.

Because of the influx of unemployment insurance claims due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the department began withdrawing the “Title XII advances” in July 2020 to pay unemployment insurance benefits.

According to Anne Perreira-Eustaquio, DLIR Director, “The DLIR has paid out nearly $6.4 billion in unemployment insurance benefits and assistance as a critical part of the safety net during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

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With the assistance of Gov. Ige and the Legislature, we have minimized significant impacts to our business community due to the Title XII advances in light of our ongoing battle with COVID-19 and our state’s economic recovery.”

Based on several reports, the department previously used $39 million in state appropriations from Coronavirus Relief Funds to pay down the federal advances in December 2020. The 2021 Legislature appropriated the $700M payment in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 funds.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act and subsequent extensions (the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, the Continued Assistance Act, ARPA) provided full, federal funding for a number of temporary unemployment insurance and assistance programs as well as temporary waivers of Title XII interest payment due and interest accrual.

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The latest extension of this program, along with other unemployment benefit programs, expired on September 6, 2021.

With the expirations of the benefit programs, approximately 7.5 million Americans who are currently unemployed because of the coronavirus pandemic have lost federal unemployment assistance, with another 3 million losing an additional $300 per week in aid to supplement state unemployment payments.

As per the US Census Bureau, around 35 million people who live in households where a family member receives unemployment income could be affected.

President Biden has previously advised states to reallocate some of their funds into benefits for workers, but this rechanneling of funds is ultimately up to each individual states’ prerogative.

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