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Who’s Still Hiring in Hawai‘i?

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Some 161,000 Hawai’i residents filed for unemployment in March.  The University of Hawai‘i’s economic research arm, UHERO, projected unemployment could temporarily spike to 25 percent due to the impact of COVID-19 on the economy.  In Hawai‘i, however, some companies need even more workers.

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Unemployed men queued outside a depression soup kitchen opened in Chicago by Al Capone in February 1931.

”We’ve actually got over 100 positions available throughout the state,” says Jefferson Niles, hiring and recruiting manager for Securitas, a security service provider. Applications have doubled over the last two weeks.

“We’ve actually seen the demand for our services increase because of the current situation here.  We’ve seen increased calls from some clients for temporary services, securing some of their facilities or buildings that aren’t in use right now. Other clients have seen just an increase in demand for security at some of their operations,” he said.

To be hired, a candidate must be 18 to apply, get certified by the state, and pass a background check, among other things.  Wages range from $12 to $15 an hour and up, and pay is weekly. Hiring has been expedited.

“By the time someone applies, they could be working a week from that date and get their first paycheck a week from then.”

Hiring has been streamlined at Walmart, too, where they were planning to hire 400 last week and still have a way to go.

“Many of these opportunities can turn into permanent positions, so, yes, we are seeing applicants but we would love to see more,” says Tiffany Wilson, Walmart’s director of communications. She adds starting pay is $11 an hour for most entry positions, up to about $24 dollars in stores. In distribution, pay starts at $16 to $17 an hour.

“Sales right now are similar to what we’ve seen in the holiday season. And they’re very specific items that are selling," she says. "We’ve seen apparel not perform as well, but tops are performing better than bottoms as you can imagine. With so many people working from home and having to be on camera, people are buying more shirts, but probably wearing….hahaha.”

Longs/CVS  is looking to hire 288 people across Hawai‘i, according to Jeffrey Lackey, vice president of Talent Acquisition.

“We are encouraging people to go to CVS.jobs/2020 to enter an accelerated hiring process,” he said.

All Longs workers affected by COVID-19 are covered for child care and elder care, through Bright Horizons.

“You could actually pay out of pocket, be reimbursed at a rate of $100 per day for all 300,000 associates.”

Zippy’s has frozen hiring for the moment. In any case, it’s best to go directly to a company website for current postings.  Bank of Hawai‘i has also frozen hiring for the moment, but is looking at reactivating certain positions, according to Ed Hudson, senior EVP and chief people officer.

“We don’t really have anybody that’s furloughed. Everybody is either working remotely, about 80% of our employees are working remotely. Then there are some jobs you just can’t do from home, like being a teller or working in operations.”

Though 38 of the BOH's 68 branches are closed, employees are being rotated and reassigned to keep them on. Recruiting for the Bank of Hawai‘i call center is ongoing.

Oceanit, one of Hawai‘i’s most successful tech firms, has eight positions posted. According to Human Resources Manager Linda Kawamura, they are interviewing, but will not hire until future needs are clearer.

Jefferson Niles at Securitas noted, the preponderance of restaurant and hospitality industry jobs in the state precipitated a steeper crash in employment than he has seen across the nation, generally. The National Restaurant Association has opened a relief fund for workers laid off in the restaurant industry. Their site has been slow to load.  

Noe Tanigawa covered art, culture and ideas for two decades at Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
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