Hawaii’s gradual drop in unemployment poses challenge for up-and-coming eateries seeking to fill positions

job-fair-waikiki

Hawaii’s unemployment rate continues to drop, according to new numbers released in November, but this poses a challenge for new businesses popping up on Oahu.

The data showed the unemployment rate in October was 3.2 percent, down from 3.3 percent in September.

Nationally, the October unemployment rate was 4.9 percent, also down a bit from the previous month.

It may appear to be good news to the U.S. economy, but for businesses, it means the pool of available workers is shrinking making it somewhat challenging for new shops and restaurants that are just opening, including multiple new eateries that are coming to Oahu from Kapolei to Waikiki.

Representatives for two of those companies held job fairs on Saturday to get their businesses fully staffed in time for opening.

“We’re looking for approximately 75 employees, both front of house and back of house, all skill-sets,” said Christopher Calderon, director of human resources for upcoming Waikiki brick-oven pizza eatery Flour & Barley.

Flour & Barley joined another restaurant to soon open in Waikiki, Yauatcha, an upscale Chinese restaurant, in holding job fairs on Saturday. Both will be opening their doors at International Marketplace in 2017, but finding employees to fill those jobs can take some work.

“The turnout has been minimal which I believe is because the unemployment rate in Hawaii is very, very low,” said Yannick Augy, director of restaurant projects company Hakkasan Group, which represents Yauatcha.

According to the Hawaii State Department of Labor, the leisure and hospitality industry saw a big jump in employment, particularly in restaurants and bars.

KHON2 was told companies are trying to stay competitive in order to find applicants in a shrinking workforce.

“We’re gonna be competitive with wages for the market,” said Calderon. “The opportunity to be working for a great company, the opportunity to go work in a different city, a different continent. I mean pretty much anywhere in the world you can work for us.”

They’re also offering benefits packages and flexibility in hopes of gaining more employees.

“We are considering that this is a second job for most and we’re OK with that so we’re going work with their schedule,” said Augy. “We’re going try to accommodate those people with second jobs and hopefully through working here and learning a little about us, who we are and having a great management team, they’ll make us a priority and make us a first job.”

Both restaurants are continuing their job fairs on Sunday.

For Flour & Barley:
Sunday, November 20, 2016 – 12:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Location: International Market Place, Flour & Barley – Brick Oven Pizza, 2330 Kalakaua Ave. Unit #302, Honolulu, HI 96815

For Yauatcha Waikiki:
Sunday, November 20, and Monday, November 21, 2016 – 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Location: The Moana Surfrider Hotel – Ballroom, 2365 Kalakaua Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96815

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