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May 1, 2019


Hawaii’s unemployment rate is very low — at 2.8 percent.

It’s not a record, but it is a low rate, just as high school and college students are about to look for summer jobs.

Despite Hawaii’s 2.8 percent unemployment rate, many businesses have help-wanted, or now-hiring signs in their windows.

Scott Murakami, Director, State Dept. of Labor and Industrial Relations, says, “the labor market has a little bit more slack in it than it did about a year or two ago, but it’s still very good opportunity for anybody who wants to get out there and get a job, the economy is still growing, and it’ll be a little slower, but the opportunities are still out there.”

Thousands of jobs — government jobs and private sector positions — are posted on the state’s job portal — hirenethawaii.

Not only is the state also hiring —  it has a special program to match 16-through-21-year-olds who have cognitive or physical disabilities — with summer jobs through the division of vocational rehabilitation.

Murakami says the program is a success.

“A lot of those individuals have stayed on, so they come in for the summer, they find out that they’re a great fit, and you know, we have people who just really find that the services that they deliver are just second-to-none.”

According to Labor Director Murakami, interested applicants may call 586-8722 and ask to speak with Carol or Laura.

Job applicants who are 14 to 17 years old need a work permit and they can apply online. The Labor Department processes about 10,000 work permit applications a year — with about 3,200 of those coming in May and June.

When the job market heats up, there are tips for you to stand out, whether you’re looking for a job, or you’re looking for workers.

Shani Silva, Industrial Division Manager at Altres Staffing, says summer hiring season is ripe with opportunities.

“We’re in a tourist market, so that’s a peak time for travelers, so in our mind we think Waikiki’s going to be booming, but that trickles down to every other business, warehouse, food distribution, you name, it, so a lot of people are going to be looking for workers right now.”

That means it’s competitive for employers and for job-seekers — and all need to find ways to stand out.

She says employers should not relax their hiring standards — in order to protect their business.

They should use catchy words in their hiring signs and advertising, like “great benefits” or “fun environment.”

They might also want to consider using an employment agency for temporary hires, rather than hiring directly.

For job seekers, she suggests trying to get some face-time — introduce yourself to a manager.

Ask about the application process and if it’s online-only, fill it out.

Make a follow-up phone call — but just one.

And finally — send a hand-written thank-you note.

“Say, ‘I applied for your summer hires, I don’t know if you had the opportunity to see my application. This is my name, I would welcome a phone call anytime. That’s going to go a long way.”

Job fairs are another way to get face-time and potentially find work:

Doubletree by Hilton Alana

Thursday, May 2
9:30 a.m. To 1 p.m.
1956 Ala Moana Blvd.
Parking: $6

WorkForce Career Fair

Wednesday, May 15
10 a.m. To 3 p.m.
Blaisdell Center Exhibition Hall

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