It’s a job seeker’s market. And as restrictions ease, many are looking for a fresh start

It’s been two years since Hawaii went into a statewide lockdown.
Published: Mar. 23, 2022 at 4:14 PM HST|Updated: Mar. 23, 2022 at 5:14 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It’s been two years since Hawaii went into a statewide lockdown.

So much has changed since then.

At the start of Oahu’s stay-at-home order, the state averaged about 12 infections a day. In January, Delta and Omicron surges sent cases peaking at over 4,500 infections a day. And today, with just under 90 cases a day, restrictions are dropping and many are eager for a fresh start.

At the Blaisdell Center on Wednesday, 70 companies sought applicants for scores of open positions.

Job seeker George Warnock said the early days of the pandemic were a scary time.

Businesses were boarded up. Beaches were empty. And tourism, the workhorse of Hawaii’s economy, came to a standstill.

“A lot of people I know were upset,” he said. But now here we are. Back to normal.”

Scott Peters, Lanakila Pacific job coach, said seeing the Blaisdell full of job seekers again was exciting.

“There’s a lot of people out looking for jobs. A lot of people looking for a new start,” he said. “Maybe something happened over the course of the pandemic. Maybe they weren’t happy with their situation.”

The last Career Expo was in August 2021 and planners say getting scheduled again was a challenge because of the surges.

Planners also say before the pandemic, companies had the upper hand and could be selective with applicants.

“They could be picky in the hires that they were looking for. There were more applicants then there were jobs and people’s lives changing,” said Denise Ching, Career Expo event planner.

Now it’s applicants who can be picky.

“People now they are looking for careers, they have options. That’s what’s different. These company’s here some of them never needed to be here,” said Ching. “We have Hawaiian airlines here and everyone wants to work for Hawaiian Airlines and they have 600 jobs available.”

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