BizzBuzz for Sunday — June 29, 2003

• Employed figure is multi-year high • Cigarette taxes go up Tuesday • Major banks lower lending rates here • Carriers adding interisland seats • Free landscaping course set for July • Tax revenues still ahead of last year • Grace Pacific to acquire Sun here

Employed figure is multi-year high

There were 28,500 employed Kauaians last month, a figure not reached in several years dating at least back to 1997, according to information from the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations. With just 1,300 people unemployed and looking for work, that meant a May unemployment rate of 4.4 percent on Kauai, way down from 5 percent in April of this year and 5.8 percent in May of last year.

The state unemployment rate was 3.8 percent last month, up slightly from 3.7 percent in April of this year and down from 4.2 in May of last year. The City and County of Honolulu rate was the lowest among the counties, at 3.8 percent last month, with the Big Island having the highest rate in May of this year, 6.1 percent. The national unemployment rate remained at 5.8 percent last month, unchanged from April of this year but up from 5.5 percent in May of last year.

Cigarette taxes go up Tuesday

The state tax on cigarettes is moving from six cents per cigarette ($1.20 per 20-cigarette pack) to 6.5 cents per smoke for packs sold after tomorrow, Monday, June 30. The per-cigarette tax goes up to seven cents on July 1, 2004. The change requires merchants to get new pink stamps for on-hand packs after tomorrow with the expiring yellow stamps on them. First Hawaiian Bank branches have the new stamps, which sell for nearly $20,000 for a roll of 15,000 stamps.

Major banks lower lending rates here

Representatives of both Bank of Hawaii and First Hawaiian Bank, the state’s largest banks, announced the banks were lowering their prime, or base lending rates, to 4 percent, from 4.25 percent, effective Friday, June 27. The moves follow the Federal Reserve leader’s announcement of a drop in the federal interest rate by 0.25 percent.

Carriers adding interisland seats

Reacting to increased demand in both kamaaina (resident) and visitor travel this summer, both Aloha Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines representatives announced increased numbers of flights between the islands. Peak summer travel commences this Wednesday, July 2, and lasts through Wednesday, Aug. 20.

Free landscaping course set for July

A free, three-month, landscape-maintenance program, designed for entry-level workers, will be held at the Kauai Agricultural Research Center in Wailua, beginning this week. Please call Jane, 274-3471, for more information.

Tax revenues still ahead of last year

Though tax revenues were down last month in both the dominant general-excise/use tax category and transient accommodations tax (TAT, or hotel-room tax) compared to last May, both of those categories are ahead of last year in terms of year-to-date collections.

According to a state Department of Taxation spokesman, over $1.6 million has been collected in the current fiscal year in the general-excise/use-tax category, up 7.2 percent from $1.5 million over the same period in the last fiscal year.

Grace Pacific to acquire Sun here

Grace Pacific Corporation representatives announced they have reached an agreement to acquire Sun Industries, Inc., a Honolulu-based company doing a lot of guardrail work on Kauai.


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