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Hawaii businesses still struggling to hire as some unemployment benefits come to an end

Published: Sep. 4, 2021 at 5:37 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - After Sept. 4, many unemployment claimants will no longer receive extra federal benefits, which was approved by congress in 2020 to help during the pandemic.

With that support gone, retailers and restaurants are hoping to see more applications come through.

Even after the state began requiring unemployment claimants to show three filled job applications weekly, restaurants and retailers say it wasn’t much help as they have been struggling to fill positions.

“It’s pretty hard and a waste of time because you’re not sure who’s serious, or who’s just doing it to tick boxes,” said Tiffany Morrissey, owner of the Keiki and the Pineapple.

“We are noticing that if we’re calling these people that they aren’t 100% giving us a call back,” said Mary Muncher, Buyer of Uloha. “Or they are scheduling an interview but not showing up for it.”

Both the Hawaii Restaurant Association (HRA) and Retail Merchants of Hawaii say they haven’t seen an uptick in applications.

Sheryl Matsuoka, executive director of HRA said between 75-80% of restaurants have job openings.

Majority of them are kitchen positions. Because of the labor shortage, management at some businesses have stepped up to keep their shops running.

“So, because we couldn’t find good people, I have had to ask like friends and family come and help,” said Morrissey. “My husband’s kind of helped, I have brought my new baby and just kind of being there to help at the shop more.”

“We’ve definitely had to be agile in terms of the owner stepping onto the floor, other employees, picking up more shifts or staying longer hours,” said Muncher.

According to the Hawaii State Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism (DBEDT), in July, the unemployment rate was 7.3% compared to 7.7% in June.

In July, 47,200 were unemployed.

According to Matsuoka, since summer vacation visitors have returned back to the mainland and schools are back in session, restaurants across the state have seen a dip in sales over 2019′s revenue.

However, Dirck Noordhoff, owner of Cafe Glace in Waikiki said the governor encouraging travelers to avoid coming to the islands along with the vaccine pass among customers is affecting their sales and staffing.

“That just changed so much so, you know, our revenues are 50% down from that and so I’m cutting back hours, I’m cutting back staff,” said Noordhoff.

Hawaii News Now also reached out to ALTRES Employment Services who also hasn’t seen an uptick in job applications.

Matsuoka said the food industry has open positions available. If you’re interested, email info@hawaiirestaurant,org. She says no resume is needed.

For more job listings, click here.

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