Guam Labor: Saipan, Palau jobless data accidentally merged with Guam's

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HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — The Guam Department of Labor's software vendor accidentally added unemployment claims filed on Saipan and Palau to Guam's previous tally, the department acknowledged on Tuesday.

The error has been identified and corrected, bringing Guam's total number of initial unemployment claims to 26,953 as of Tuesday.

This is down from 31,313 that Labor reported on Monday as the initial unemployment claims filed on Guam.

On Saturday, Labor said the claims filed were 31,142, and on Thursday, 30,158.

"The number went down because Saipan and Palau share our program. The vendor had their claims accidentally adding into our report, but they corrected it," according to Hannah Cho, a special projects coordinator with Guam Labor.

 The Guam Department of Labor's unemployment programs call center is hosted at Guam Community College behind these halls as shown on June 4, 2020. The Guam Daily Post photo

Guam Labor's software vendor is Florida-based Geographic Solutions Inc., the same vendor for Palau and Saipan in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

80% filed

The number of Guam employee separation notices, however, were not affected, Cho said.

As of Tuesday, 33,643 Guam workers had been laid off, furloughed or experienced work-hour reduction as a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

This is based on the reporting of 1,900 employers on, which automatically generated employee separation notices.

The corrected data means that as of Tuesday, 80% or 26,953 of the 33,643 displaced workers had so far applied for an initial unemployment claim.

This leaves nearly 6,700 affected workers that have yet to apply for the federally funded Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.

'I need help'

While unemployment benefits have started to get paid, there are also workers that have fallen through the cracks and could not get their PUA claims filed.

"I need help please," Kanika Kanas told The Guam Daily Post on Tuesday, expressing her frustration with the unemployment benefit application and eligibility.

She said her previous employer, a popular grocery store, has not given her any document or certification showing she's a displaced worker since April.

Kanas said her previous employer kept telling her that they will call her back, after they check with Labor whether she's eligible to receive an unemployment benefit.

She said when daycare centers closed because of Covid-19, she was forced to stay home to take care of her children.

"Her (employer's representative's) excuse is that I might not be eligible because when I decided not to show up for work, I never called them or anything," she said. "Am I not eligible?"

Her other half has been unemployed as well.

"It is very hard because I have kids to support and not enough to support our needs. My other half resigned from his job due to the fact his father was dying of cancer. He passed (in) March," she said.

The U.S. Department of Labor approved an initial $276 million allotment for Guam so it can implement the PUA and Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation programs. Guam asked for a $924 million budget.

This week, Guam Labor would have already processed nearly $120 million in unemployment benefits and taxes for thousands of displaced workers. A fourth batch is being processed.

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