Gov. David Ige said Wednesday that he encouraged the leader of the state’s labor department to take some time off, since the department has been inundated with unemployment claims during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Scott Murakami, head of the state’s Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, has been on leave since early June. He had received death threats.

“I felt that he had deserved some time off, and that he was under tremendous stress,” Ige said at a press conference Wednesday. “I decided it would be best that he takes some time off for himself and his family. So I ordered him to stay away.”

Scott Murakami, who heads Hawaii’s unemployment agency, has been a frequent guest on news programs like this one on Hawaii News Now to answer questions during the pandemic. Gov. David Ige said Wednesday he encouraged Murakami to take some time off from the stressful job. Courtesy: Hawaii News Now

On Wednesday, the department released its first claims figures since May 28. The revised figures are also the first since DLIR said last week that it had lost confidence in the numbers it was reporting and needed to review them.

The new figures report nearly 30,000 fewer claims on the state’s mainframe than DLIR had reported previously, down from 254,000 claims on May 28 to 228,000. The state has issued more than $803 million in benefits since March.

“We’ve paid 88% of claims that have been filed, and we’ve now processed more than 92% of filings made for those seeking unemployment benefits,” Ige said.

Some of the common issues that can lead to delays in processing include incorrect or insufficient information supplied by claimants, or cases require investigation, DLIR officials said Wednesday.

Hawaii’s unemployment insurance claims data as of June 10 is listed below.

No. of claims filed statewide: 228,367
No. of invalid claims filed statewide: -65,567
No. of valid claims awaiting claimant to verify: -14,612
No. of valid claims requiring DLIR action 148,188
No. of claims paid: 130,536
No. of claims requiring DLIR action 6/9/20 17,652

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