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With holiday season coming up, Hawaii eateries and retailers struggle to fill vacancies

Published: Oct. 22, 2021 at 5:47 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 22, 2021 at 5:52 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Many Hawaii businesses are expecting a busy holiday season. But keeping up with the demand may be difficult — if they can’t find enough employees.

Hawaii restaurants and retailers — like those across the country — say they are short of workers and offering incentives and other perks to try to fill vacancies.

“Once November hits, I know it’s just going to be nonstop,” said Andrew Chun-Hori, operations manager of Hawaiian Pie Co.

Chun-Hori said two of their bakers recently moved to the mainland. Now, they’re looking for new ones.

“It’s an interesting job because we’re in like a mix of manufacturing as well as you know, a normal, normal-ish bakery,” he said.

Chun-Hori said they have already started feeling the holiday rush and are having to step in to keep up with the demand.

“So that means coming in on off days, days that we’re not normally open or days that would technically be my weekend,” said Chun-Hori. “You know, just sacrifice you got to make.”

Businesses are struggling to find workers even though the unemployment rate is still above pre-pandemic levels.

In September 2019, the unemployment rate was 2.3%.

During the peak of the pandemic, April to May 2020, it shot up to 21.9%.

But in September, it was at 6.6%.

At Rainbow Drive-In, General Manager Alexander Boyle said they’re also looking for cooks.

To help fill positions, they started rewarding employees who find new hires.

“So, if they stay for three months, then the employee and the person that stays for three months each get $300,” Boyle explained.

ALTRES Employment Services says their seeing more interest in the industrial force like shipping and delivery drivers.

In addition, the health field like nurses, medical assistance, and those in COVID clinics.

Restaurants and retail businesses are competing for those workers.

“Even the larger family dining restaurants and they’re all struggling,” said Sheryl Matsuoka, executive director of the Hawaii Restaurant Association.

“Hoping that now with the governor’s announcement, tourism will be back in their restaurants and dining in.”

Matsuoka says those interested in the restaurant industry can email her at info@hawaiirestaurant.org. A resume is not needed.

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