Furloughs, layoffs mount on Maui as economic headwinds continue

Nearly two months since the August 8th wildfires thousands of Maui residents continue to file for unemployment every wee
Published: Sep. 26, 2023 at 6:17 PM HST|Updated: Sep. 26, 2023 at 9:52 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Nearly two months after wildfires decimated Lahaina town, Maui’s economy continues to suffer — and unemployment claims are mounting.

Thousands of Maui residents continue to file for unemployment every week, and business owners and officials fear the situation could get worse before it gets better.

Sources say staff members with Avis/Budget Group were notified on Friday that as many as 34 employees are being furloughed for at least six weeks as tourism arrivals remain down.

The company wouldn’t confirm how many employees are being impacted or for how long.

“Avis Budget Group has made the difficult decision to furlough some of its employees due to the travel decline in Maui,” the company said, in a statement. “We are confident that as travel to the island resumes to expected levels, we will be able to return our employees to work.”

It’s not just the car rental industry making cuts.

Genesis Casanova Tellez, who runs a food truck business on Maui, said she’s had to cut employee hours because sales are down.

“We really couldn’t give them the full pay without losing money from ourselves,” Tellez said.

Several other businesses also said they’re reducing staff hours.

And some workers are scrambling to find other jobs.

“It’s kind of depressing to look at people who have been with you a long time and say you know, this is the best we can do for you right now,” said Anthony Garcia with Da Nani Pirates food truck on Maui. “It hurt a little bit to see some of the guys go but it’s what we had to do.”

Data from the state shows thousands of people in Maui County continue to apply for unemployment every week.

The governor is hoping the reopening of West Maui in October will be enough to entice visitors back. Others say the current situation underscores the need for economic diversifcation.