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By Justin Tyndall
The labor market impact of COVID-19 is likely to vary across different areas of Hawai’i. Using new data on a sample of 150,000 initial unemployment claims from the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, we created a map that provides a first indication of the severity of the labor market downturn, organized by zip code. The map displays the number of claims as a percentage of the number of workers living in each zip code. Claims appear to be more concentrated on the neighbor islands than on Oahu. Additionally, claims are clustered in zip codes where the tourism industry is a particularly important source of employment. Understanding the spatial distribution of COVID-19’s economic impact will be important for the efficient organization of relief efforts.
The sample of initial unemployment insurance claims was provided by Scott Murakami, Director of the Department of Labor, to state Senator Donovan Dela Cruz, chairman of the Senate Special Committee on COVID-19. The figures were first reported in a recent article appearing in the Star Advertiser. Unfortunately, we do not have any other information about the claims data, and because it is a sample, it may not be fully representative of the population of claims or their distribution across zip codes. The map will be updated if more data becomes available.