Jim Milligan is one of those statistics. Jim came here from Oregon in January 2006 with a construction crew to work on a roofing project in Wailuku Heights. After the job ended, Jim remained on Maui, finding a job at local construction company.
After an extended period of stable employment, Jim brought his mother and young son out to live with him. Then, eight months ago, Jim was laid off.
“Now, unemployment has run dry,” said Jim. “This is the first time in my life I’ve ever had to apply for any kind of assistance,” Jim said of his recent call to the food stamp office. “I don’t know if they will come soon enough. It’s pretty rough.”
Jim Milligan is actively seeking employment.
But there was no anger in Jim’s voice as he talked to me on Hāna Highway, where he set up his self-made employment office. As he stood holding a wooden sign advertising his need for a job and his phone number in front of his truck and display of tools, he blamed no one. He presented himself as a respectful, earnest man, and looked me straight in the eye as he spoke from the heart about his quest for an honest day’s work.
But he is anxious about the future.
“My family is the number one thing in my life,” said Jim. “Right now, I need the rent money by the first,” he said. “And I don’t know how I’m going to get it.
“I want to work and I will take anything in the construction field,” said Jim. He has 18 years in concrete and six years of carpentry experience, most of his own tools and reliable transportation. He said he will also take any and all odd jobs, including hauling with his truck.
“If you have a good job, hang on to it,” advises Jim. “If you have an extra one out there, I’ll take it. And I’ll be here every day until that happens.”