Hawaii companies are still struggling to hire as some unemployment benefits are running out

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – After September 4, many unemployment applicants will no longer receive additional federal benefits, which were approved by Congress in 2020 to help during the pandemic.

Once the support is gone, retailers and restaurants hope to see more applications come through.

Even after the state began requiring unemployment claims to show three completed job applications per week, restaurants and retailers say it was not much help as they have struggled 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 Keiki and Pineapple.

“We notice that if we call these people, they are not 100% giving us a call back,” said Mary Muncher, buyer of Uloha. “Or they’re planning an interview but not showing up for it.”

Both the Hawaii Restaurant Association (HRA) and the Retail Merchants of Hawaii say they have not seen an increase in applications.

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

The majority of them are kitchen positions. Due to labor shortages, the management of some companies has increased to keep their stores running.

“So because we could not find good people, I have had to ask, just like friends and family come and help,” Morrissey said. “My husband helped in a way I’ve taken my new baby with and just been there to help more in the store.”

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

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

In July, 47,200 were unemployed.

According to Matsuoka, since summer vacationers have returned to the mainland and schools are back in session, restaurants across the state have seen a drop in sales relative to 2019 revenue.

However, Dirck Noordhoff, owner of Cafe Glace in Waikiki, said Governor urges travelers to avoid coming to the islands together with vaccine passes among customers affects their sales and staffing.

“It’s just changed so much, you know, our revenue is 50% lower than that, and that’s why I cut back on hours, I cut back on staff,” Noordhoff said.

Hawaii News also reached out to ALTRES Employment Services, which has also not seen an increase in job applications.

Matsuoka said the food industry has vacancies. If you are interested, email info @ hawaiirestaurant, org. She says there is no need for a resume.

For more job postings, click here.

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