$1M in federal funds for local fishermen

OUT FISHING: A couple of fishermen are seen at Tumon Bay on April 21. The Guam Department of Agriculture is urging local fishermen to register for a program offering $1 million for local fishermen from federal pandemic funds. Post file photo

Some 1,715 employers with displaced workers have so far registered online to help their employees apply for federal unemployment benefits.

By the time funds are received and checks are cut by late May, many people would have been out of a job for two to three months.

The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program and Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Program cover employees who are now jobless, furloughed, or getting pay cuts because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero on Tuesday said the application period for federal unemployment benefits may begin in the second or third week of May.

"We are laying off the ground. Once the money starts coming in, we can just go forward," the governor said in her daily news briefing.

The governor said the federal unemployment assistance programs are a complicated process because they involve a multistep process of gathering data from employers and employees, among other things, along with training for staff.

Self-employed: What to do

As of Tuesday, 1,715 employers have so far registered on the Guam Department of Labor's virtual one-stop system, hireguam.com, based on preliminary department data.

This number still needs to be refined, because GDOL has been getting an influx of employees registering as employers.

On Tuesday, GDOL issued updated guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor, stating that those who are self-employed or self-contracted do not need to register as employers on hireguam.com.

When the application process opens, there will be a breakout section for self-employed and self-contracted individuals.

"They will be treated as employees," GDOL stated.

As of Tuesday, there's no date when the application will begin, other than the governor's estimate of the second or third week of May.

For Guam, the unemployment checks for eligible residents are up to $945 a week for the first 13 weeks of benefits, then $345 a week for up to 26 weeks after that.

The benefits are retroactive to the date the employee lost their job, was furloughed or got a pay cut.

Dual verification

Employers and business owners must register their organization if they are experiencing business shutdowns, layoffs, furloughs or reduced hours caused by COVID-19.

The registration requirement allows GDOL to have a dual verification process for when employees apply for federal unemployment assistance.

“The new module is being set up, but I am working hard to be able to get applications into the hands of our displaced workers and those who have had their hours reduced so they may receive benefits as quickly as possible during this global health crisis," GDOL Director David Dell’Isola said in a statement.

The governor said GDOL is in the process of hiring 50 people who will be able to work the program.

The employee application process will be done online, but there will also be a manual application process for those who do not have online access.

Dell’Isola had said the unemployment programs could cost as much as $900 million, which would be the single largest federal unemployment aid for Guam.

Some 38,000 individuals on Guam are expected to apply for the federal unemployment aid programs.

Haidee Eugenio Gilbert


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