According to the Pacific Business News in their July 30, 2010 edition, Hawaii has the 15th strongest economy in the nation based on private sector employment trends which is up from its 29th place ranking of last year and 21st place the year before that. Hawaii was one of only 28 states that had a positive overall employment score with N. Dakota topping the scale. Twenty two states had a negative ranking with Nevada landing at the bottom and California not far above that. Pearl Imada Oboshi, former state economist and current acting director of the Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, said the report is in line with how the Hawaii State government preceives Hawaii’s economy. “Hawaii has been consistently doing better than the national average in terms of unemployment and we have not had the same types of issues as other states have endured like large industrial and manufacturing job losses”. Our real estate market has seen some declines but certainly not to the extent that other areas in the country have experienced.
Contrary to this opinion, Carl Bonham, executive director of University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization (UHERO) feels this is a bit high and that he would likely place Hawaii in the top 30 but not necessarily 15th. He contends that the ranking had everything to do with the fact that the report focused on unemployment numbers. In Hawaii we have a prepaid health care law that requires employers to offer health care benefits to all employees working at least 20 hours a week. In these hard times, employers are choosing to hire part time, more casual labor to avoid the extra overhead of benefits for full timers. This does tend to lower the overall unemployment numbers as these folks are reporting UNDER employment rather than UNemployment.
Just proves that numbers can always lend themselves to whatever position you choose to embrace…however…given the entire set of positive indicators, perhaps it is more reliable to conclude Hawaii has endured this recession and all the associated economic woes a bit better than the national averages. This is consistent with whats happening on the real estate horizon. Earlier this year we saw a lot of people starting to “look” at the market here again. The perception was that now was the time to really find some distressed bargains out there. It has certainly been an eye opener for off island investors to come to Kauai and find things not quite as distressed as they might think. Don’t get me wrong opportunity is knocking but investors won’t find foreclosure tour busses and vast tracts of homes abandoned as it has been characterized in other parts of the country. It takes a bit more professional guidance and a good real estate resource to winnow out the chaff from the grain