With no job prospects on the horizon, some are moving to the mainland

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Published: Oct. 3, 2020 at 12:23 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 3, 2020 at 12:27 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A lack of job opportunities and no communication from the state’s unemployment office is driving some Hawaii residents to pack up their bags and move to the mainland.

Thirty-year-old Daniel Jalomo is preparing to head out to California in just a few weeks as finding work on the island has been a challenge.

[Read more: Economist predicts significant out-migration to mainland amid slow recovery]

“You look at Craigslist every day, there’s no jobs,” said Jalomo.

Oahu’s emergency order has kept him furloughed from his job at a catering company.

While Jalomo was able to get unemployment assistance, he says it wasn’t easy and that he had to reach out to a state senator for help.

However, those funds are now running out.

“Monies run out, I’m not sure if I’m going to get the $300 this week, I’m just riddled with anxiety, everything is so expensive here,” said Jalomo.

This summer, one of the state’s top economists predicted that Hawaii will see a significant migration of residents to the mainland over the next two years as people seek jobs.

Carl Bonham, director of the Economic Research Organization at the University of Hawaii, said at a state House hearing that Hawaii is expected to recover from the pandemic slower than other states.

That’s in large part because of Hawaii’s dependence on the tourism industry.

“Many other state economies and county economies will recover much more rapidly and the job opportunities will simply not exist here that will exist in the rest of the economy,” Bonham said.

He predicted that by 2022, Hawaii’s population could drop by 30,000.

Tiana Romkee, 27, is also planning to leave the state. She was laid off from her jobs as an esthetician and server. She’s also in the process of moving to California.

“I have to work. I have to get some sort of assistance. We have to pay bills, you know, I’m missing payments left and right, so at this point it’s a matter of survival,” said Romkee.

Unlike Jalomo, Romkee could not get any benefits.

She speaks on behalf of others who communicate through a large Facebook group that is fed up with dealing with the unemployment office.

“We’re just completely left in the dark,” said Romkee. “We don’t have answers, you know we don’t have any sort of reassurance."

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