Waikito-area digital marketing professionals are bracing for a digital marketing disaster, with some companies warning they could be out of jobs.
Digital marketing experts say it’s impossible to predict exactly how long the trend will continue.
It’s unclear how many businesses will lose jobs in the coming months, and whether those jobs will be filled with employees who are just starting out or if the job losses will be spread out over time.
There is no clear way to measure the impact on the economy, experts say, and many predict it will be too early to know for sure.
A digital marketing industry has been booming in the Honolulu area.
A recent study from the Hawaii Economic Development Corporation found that in 2016, Hawaii’s digital marketing sector grew at a rate of 1.7 percent annually, the fastest growth in the country.
But that’s just a fraction of the jobs that will be lost in the process.
The HEC study, which looked at data from nearly 1,500 businesses in Hawaii, found that nearly half of those businesses had to cut back on marketing due to a decline in sales, a loss of sales, or both.
Many experts said that even though the boom is going strong, the pace of job losses has been slow.
For instance, while the number of people working in digital marketing has increased by more than 1,000 jobs from 2017 to 2018, the number has decreased by about 50 jobs in 2020.
But the decline in hiring has slowed, said Steve Lavin, the executive director of the Hawaii Technology Industry Association.
He said the economy has seen a decline of more than 2 percent a year for the past six years.
Lavin said that in some areas, like the Waikitian Valley, the job growth is slowing and that many businesses have closed down because they couldn’t compete.
He said the state of Hawaii will need to do a lot of work to rebuild the economy.
Levin said that the HEC report shows the impact of the downturn is not yet clear.
For example, there is no way to predict how many of the digital marketing jobs will stay, whether they will be temporary or permanent, or whether it will continue to increase or decrease.
For instance, if the economy is still recovering from the recession, those businesses that are closing down will probably be more than able to replace their employees with new ones, he said.
The lack of information about how long it will take for the job cuts to come to fruition has been frustrating for some businesses, said Mark Stahl, a marketing manager at Kato, a local business that employs about 50 people in the Waifu Valley.
Stahl said he believes many of his employees have been told that they won’t be able to continue with their jobs.
The Kato area, which includes the area that has been hit the hardest by the digital economy, has seen an increase in digital advertising since the recession.
But it is hard to pinpoint how many jobs are at risk.
Stahl said many of Kato’s digital marketers work at small- and medium-sized businesses, where they are required to spend time on-site, such as helping customers make purchase decisions, and often take on new roles such as social media and digital marketing.
Kato does not have a specific goal for how many new jobs will remain, but said it is considering increasing the size of its workforce by 10 percent or more.
Stahls said it’s possible the job reductions could last as long as six months, if not longer.
Stahls and others are worried about the impact the recession is having on the industry, saying that people are taking on more responsibilities and the economy needs to catch up with the recession’s pace of economic growth.
“We need to be careful in our thinking because people are moving into positions they aren’t used to,” Stahl explained.
He added that the industry will need more help than it is receiving right now to keep pace with the economic downturn.
Stahn said it will probably take a few years before Hawaii can see an economic recovery.
Stahlins and others agree that digital marketing needs to be supported by government, as it is in many other industries, but they also think it needs to grow at a steady pace.
The industry will only get stronger as more businesses are able to start hiring employees.
The job cuts in digital will hurt businesses, but many are looking forward to the day when businesses can focus more on their core business.
Stellas and others said they hope the HEDC study helps guide the state’s digital efforts.
But even though digital is booming in Hawaii and businesses are already looking to expand their business, they said that there is a lot more work to do.
Stellenas said he has been trying to stay in touch with his former employers, and he is still trying to figure out how to help them.
He hopes his efforts can help.
For example, Stellas said Kato has created a program to provide a small discount to anyone