Unless oil prices hurt air travelBY DENNIS WILKEN
TGI Staff Writer
LIHU’E — Paul Brewbaker, the chief economist for the Bank
of Hawai’i, anticipates “a really good year” economically across the state and
Brewbaker, speaking Wednesday at a meeting of the Kaua’i County
Council, acknowledged that his message had only recently changed.
nice to bring good news,” he said, adding that the state is “out of the
stagnation” of the 1990s.
“There is one wild card” which could negatively
affect the statewide economic recovery, Brewbaker said, “and that is petroleum.
Oil is important for Hawai’i because we are an energy-consuming
There’s “not much we can do but pay the price” of oil, he said,
explaining that although oil prices in the last decade got as low as $10 a
barrel, they climbed steadily back into the $30 to $35-a-barrel
Brewbaker said the increase is important because it could affect
The North American tourist market, fueled by reasonable airline
ticket prices, was a big part of Hawaii’s latest economic
Brewbaker also noted the Asian economic slump of the ’90s, which
cut deeply into Hawaii’s other major tourist market, was over for everybody but
“The consensus forecast for Hawai’i is that the state
(economy) will grow at about 3.5 percent for the next two calendar years,”
National growth is projected closer to 4
Brewbaker also noted Hawaii’s unemployment rate has shrunk from 6
percent to 4 percent, which he said is better for employees than
On Kaua’i, unemployment is down from 7.3 percent to 6.7
“People aren’t moving to Hawai’i in as great of numbers as they
were” 10 years ago, Brewbaker said. “And the birthrate is lower than 25 years
ago. The labor market will probably tighten up fairly quickly, making it
difficult to find qualified employees.”
He said that would offer more
options for multi-talented job-seekers.
Brewbaker said the tendency of
tourists to now fly directly to the island they wish to visit has been an
especial boon for Kaua’i. The number of people coming straight here is up 8.1
percent, and the hotel occupancy is 75 to 80 percent, he said.
about the growing timeshare industry in Hawai’i, Brewbaker said, “The market
seems to have made the decision. Time share is what the market is going to pay
The economist ended his hour-long presentation with a gaze into his
“Economists make forecasts, but I’ll make a prediction. The
campaign issue of the next governor’s race in 2002 will be affordable housing,”
Brewbaker said. “In the 1990s, there was too much (housing) produced.
that’s going to change very rapidly with the strong economy. And if you don’t
build the housing for the people who want to work here, everyone will be paying
Staff writer Dennis Wilken can be reached at 245-3681
(ext. 252) and email@example.com