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Nearly 25% Of Hawaii's Workers Apply For Unemployment

Casey Harlow / HPR

HONOLULU — Nearly one-quarter of Hawaii's workers applied for unemployment benefits last month as social distancing measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus socked the economy.

The state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations said 160,929 unemployment claims were filed during March. Of those, 10,495 were duplicates.

The state's labor force has generally numbered around 660,000 for much of the past year.

U.S. Department of Labor statistics showed initial unemployment claims in Hawaii for the week through March 28 totaled 48,861 people.

A University of Hawaii economist told lawmakers this week he expected the state's unemployment rate will peak at about 25 percent in the April-June quarter as social distancing measures to contain the virus take a toll on the economy. But he said predictions were difficult to make because it's not clear how long the effects of the pandemic would last.

The state Department of Health on Thursday reported Hawaii's second coronavirus-related death. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases rose by 27 to 285. Fifteen people have been hospitalized.

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