Hawaiian firms are nonetheless struggling to rent new workers as some unemployment advantages are operating out

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – After September 4, many jobless seekers will stop receiving additional federal benefits that were approved by Congress in 2020 to help during the pandemic.

With that support gone, retailers and restaurants are hoping for more applications.

Even after the state began requiring jobless applicants to submit three completed job applications per week, restaurants and retailers say it didn’t help much as they struggled to fill jobs.

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

“We find that when we call these people, they don’t 100% call us back,” said Mary Muncher, buyer of Uloha. “Or they are planning an interview, but do not appear.”

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

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

Most of these are kitchen positions. Due to the labor shortage, the management of some companies has stepped up to keep their businesses going.

“Since we couldn’t find good people, I had to ask friends and family to come and help,” said Morrissey. “My husband helped somehow, I brought my new baby with me and I’m just there to help out more at the store.”

“We definitely had to be agile when the owner steps on the floor, other employees, take on more shifts or stay longer,” said Müncher.

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

In July, 47,200 were unemployed.

Matsuoka says restaurants across the state have seen sales down from 2019 revenue since summer vacationers returned to the mainland and schools were back in operation.

However, Dirck Noordhoff, owner of Cafe Glace in Waikiki, said the governor, who encourages travelers not to come to the islands with customers’ vaccination records, is affecting their sales and staffing.

“That has changed so much, you know, our income is 50% lower and I’m cutting the hours, I’m reducing the staff,” said Noordhoff.

Hawaii News Now also reached out to ALTRES Employment Services, which also saw no increase in applications.

Matsuoka said the food industry has vacancies. If you are interested, send an email to info @ hawaiirestaurant, org. She says no resume is required.

For more vacancies click here.

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