No-Jobs-in-Hawai'i Update
April, 2005
"There are no jobs in Hawai'i!"
Oh, how many times have we heard that one! For as long as I can remember, I have preached that there may not be a lot of "jobs" available at any given time, but there is always work. I've said that the one thing that is in short supply here is competence in just about any field, so if you're good at anything at all, you can find work here.
But in spite of the positive changes in the help-wanted scene here, the "no work in Hawai'i" lament keeps droning on . . .
Things have changed. Hawaii now enjoys the lowest unemployment rate in the country. This is distinctly a "worker's market." The "help wanted" sections of the local papers are huge now, and the jobs offered are diverse, interesting and range from unskilled help to all sorts of professional positions.
With the hoards of people moving here, there is an exponential need for help in all the new and expanding businesses. The construction industry is at its knees for lack of help. Construction companies are advertising for help - any kind of help - and they will even train you while they pay your wages!
I read in the Hawaii Tribune-Herald this morning that Hawaii Island got over 4000 new residents last year! And the majority of them are in Hilo and Kailua. That's a huge increase in population for our Island, and it does show in all sorts of places. Especially in the conspicuous traffic increase, the lack of parking places anywhere in town, and in the long lines everywhere. Two years ago there were almost never more than two or three people in line at either of Hilo's two Post Offices. Now you're lucky if there are only a dozen people, and I've seen ours so crowded that people were waiting in the lobby because the main waiting area was packed. I can't even imagine how this will play out in another year or two.
Back to jobs, the worker shortage has created a new opportunity for scammers. We do remodels to earn our keep. It has always been difficult to find skilled help here, but now it is nearly impossible. When you do find somebody who can do the job, he'll put you on a six-month waiting list.
Enter the scammers: What we have here now are guys coming over from the mainland who come to your jobsite with an impressive truckload of shiny, new tools. They'll tell you that they are master carpenters (or whatever skill you need at the time) and will work for you at an introductory rate of only $30 an hour so that you can get a chance to see what they can do.
So you hire one of these guys and give him a job to do. You're busy, so you don't get back to check on him for four or five hours. When you do come back, you find out the guy is barely competent to put together packing crates and the job he did for you is so bad it will need to be redone. You pay the guy for his five hours just to get rid of him without having to take the time for an argument, and he's off to find his next victim.
I guess where the opportunity exists for a scam, there will be those who are ready, willing and able to pull it off. Just a heads-up, incase you're already here and are looking for "competent" help. Get referrals!
The bottom line here is this: There has never been a better time to find meaningful work here than right now. There are jobs in abundance and the pay is great because of the scarcity of workers.
And now, I better get to work . . . (Sure wish I could find somebody to do this drywall job for me!)
A hui hou!

Skip Thomsen
Updated 3/6/05