Layoffs hit busy state office

Layoffs hit busy state office
Jeremy Low
Jeremy Low

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - For the last two years, Jeremy Low has enjoyed the swing of a work routine.

As a research analyst with the Office of Language Access he works with agencies who deal with immigrants and others who speak limited English.

He doesn't need a translator to tell him he's out of a job.

"You got to cut back. That's just the reality of the economy right now," he said.

Next week 384 state workers will be laid off. Four of them work in the Language Access office.

The staff is only five so the supervisor will have his hands full..

"He's looking for some volunteer help. He's looking for interns," Low said.

The staff's main duty is oversight, making sure organizations that get state funds provide interpreters and information for clients who don't speak English but who need state services, programs and activities.

"Our mandate is very large so we're dealing with state agencies and non profits. And this is statewide," he said.

The staff monitors more than fifty agencies. They also train other state employees in what they need to know to comply with the language requirement. The last few weeks have been filled with trying to finish projects.

"We want to go out with a bang and not a whimper," Low said.

Next week's round of layoffs range from professional to clerical employees. The Language Access office will be a lot quieter.

"I'm not going to say that it'll stop because it's not," he said. "It's just going to be a slower pace. Things won't be able to progress as quickly as we would have liked."

Low got his pink slip in August. He's thinking of running for office after he leaves the Language Access office for the last time.