Isle temp agenciesHawaii's staff placement companies have been getting plenty of inquiries from displaced workers in the last couple of weeks thanks to the growing number of people who have filed employment claims since the Sept. 11 attacks.
Staff placement companies are
getting plenty of applicants but
are finding few opportunities
By Lyn Danninger
A total of 9,465 claims were filed between Sept. 17 and Tuesday.
At least 80 percent of those claims are thought to be connected to Hawaii's tourism industry, but the trend is spreading.
Personnel agency staff have been working overtime to conduct interviews, register new applicants and place them in jobs, said Jana Moniz, branch manager for Snelling Personnel Services.
Moreover the company has received a lot of referrals from employers as they let staff go.
September was supposed to be among the busiest months for International Convention and Event Services, one of Snelling's biggest clients.
The company does much of the preparation for meetings, conventions and shows at the Hawaii Convention Center. Snelling provides much of the company's temporary labor for shows.
July and August are normally slow months for ICES, said Richard Olsen, vice president of the company.
But in the first couple of weeks after Sept. 11, ICES had quite a few cancellations, mostly from mainland groups, said Olsen.
"We had six or seven cancel within a two-week period. So it's not only July and August, but also September and we don't know about October yet," he said.
"Business has slowed down tremendously," Olsen said. "At this point our work force is light. We can probably run with 5 to 10 individuals. Maybe a top show would require about 50, and a really big show could take up to 300 people," he said.
But there is some good news on the horizon, Olsen said.
Some of those companies who canceled for September have re-scheduled for December.
Not all job applicants currently being seen by Snelling and other staffing agencies are related to the travel and tourism industry.
"A lot of hotels and restaurants have cut back all the way through office staff. In some cases, we've even had administrative people," she said.
Retail jobs also have suffered with fewer people shopping, she said.
But in the industrial area, so far the impact has been slight, Moniz said. "We've seen just a small effect. Some warehouses are cutting back a little. I think more as a precaution. They're taking a wait and see approach."
Over at Staffing Solutions of Hawaii, the company said the layoffs seem to be spreading beyond the tourism industry, said Charletta Wilson, communications manager for the company.
"We've noticed even the fast-food chains don't seem to be getting as much activity and are letting people go," she said.
Wilson said company officials have been talking to their employer clients to try and gauge how long the fallout is likely to continue. Even indirectly affected businesses, such as insurers, are thinking about the future, she said. As companies cut back on employees, their insurance needs are likely to be less so that's something they need to plan for, Wilson said.
Overall, Moniz and Wilson said they believe the cautious approach is likely to change in the next few months.
"There's not an increase in jobs that are available yet but I think there will be -- particularly a large need for temporary workers to replace those workers who have been laid off," Wilson said.
Both also say employers who hire either temporary or permanent help can also look forward to choosing from a much wider range of applicants.
"It's definitely a buyers' market, agrees Moniz.