HONOLULU (KHON2) — Thousands turned up to the Workforce Job Fair at the Blaisdell Center on Wednesday, Jan. 26.

The City and County of Honolulu partnered with Workforce to put on their first in-person hiring event since the pandemic began.

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Over 2,300 pre-registered before the event and over 2,700 had registered by mid-afternoon. Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi was even on hand to encourage applicants.

He said the event was partially geared to combat Hawaii’s unemployment rate — still more than double what it was pre-COVID pandemic.

Hawaii’s unemployment rate was 2.1% in March 2020. Preliminary numbers for December 2021 show it rebounded substantially to 5.7% from the high of 21.9% in April 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Mayor Blangiardi said Hawaii can do better.

“We’re working against that number, that number is not good for our wellbeing. We need people back to work, earning paychecks and taking care of their families and spending money locally.”

Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi

Another theme of the fair was City departments. Mayor Blangiardi said it has been hard to apply in the past and he wants that to change.

“You know, the City historically has not been the easiest place to get hired by,” Mayor Blangiardi said. “So we have some, over 2,000 openings that over time, we hope to be able to fill those positions and we’ve budgeted accordingly.”

Christian Graham attended the Job Fair and said it was a great opportunity to broaden his horizons.

“I’m definitely looking into the firefighter department, so they gave me a lot of good information to use. It was awesome talking to the guy over there.”

Christian Graham, job seeker

“I work with the City already so when I look, I seen all the City jobs opening I was like, this is my time to move around, can’t get complacent you know, got to keep it going,” Graham said.

Those who attended the event had to show proof of vaccination, and there was also a virtual job fair available. City officials said 1,140 people registered for the online format.

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The mayor said his administration will evaluate the impact of the Job Fair to determine when and where others will be held.