Summer sales strong

LIHUE — The job market on Kauai is strong, but with exceptions.

“Employment is difficult because Kauai is effectively at full employment, at least for the type of employees hired in restaurants and retail stores,” said Wade Lord, general manager of the Kukui Grove Center. “But most businesses looking for employees are having difficulty finding qualified people.”

This trend has negative and positive ramifications, he said.

“It’s good in some respects because it reflects the current economic climate,” Lord said. “But the downside is that it’s hard for businesses to expand and to roll out new products or services when companies struggle with short staffing.”

But the good news is that summer sales at the Kukui Grove Center have increased, Lord added. The sectors that are performing the best are restaurant, home discounters and personal services, he said.

An employee at Genki Sushi told The Garden Island that the restaurant was currently hiring about 15 new employees.

The increase in employment can be seen across the nation. A burst of hiring in June provided a reassuring sign that the U.S. economy will likely withstand global weakness that may be magnified by Britain’s decision to leave the European Union.

On Kauai, the unemployment rate between 2014 and 2015 fell .8 percent according to a report by the Economic Research Organization at the University of Hawaii. The unemployment rate for the first quarter of 2016 stands at 3.6 percent, according to the report.

Last month’s gain — 287,000 jobs, the most since October 2015 — showed that employers shook off a hiring slump in April and May and suggested that the economy will continue to grow steadily.

May’s scant job gain of 11,000 and April’s modest 144,000 increase had raised fears that the job market was weakening after months of solid growth. The United Kingdom’s “Brexit” vote late last month to bolt the European Union escalated concerns that the global economy could slip into a recession and that the United States would be affected.

The June hiring figures, released Friday, were calculated before the Brexit vote. But the robust job growth served as a reminder that through much of the U.S. economy’s seven-year recovery from the Great Recession, it has repeatedly withstood crises and recessions overseas.

“We still rank among the best among the industrial economies,” said Patrick Newport, an economist at IHS Global Insight said. “We’re about the only ones doing OK right now.”

Investors registered their relief Friday by sending stock prices soaring. The Dow Jones industrial average closed up about 251 points, or 1.4 percent.

The economy had expanded at just a 1.1 percent annual pace in the first three months of the year. But rising consumer spending, a recovering housing market and further strong job gains could accelerate growth in the coming months.

The unemployment rate did rise to 4.9 percent in June from 4.7 percent in May. But that occurred mainly for an encouraging reason: More Americans sought jobs — a sign of growing confidence — though most didn’t immediately find work. The government counts people as unemployed only if they’re looking for a job.

A healthy job market, if sustained, could complicate Donald Trump’s efforts to portray the U.S. economy as faltering. The presumptive Republican presidential nominee had referred to May’s weak jobs report as a “bombshell” but didn’t comment on Friday’s report.

Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee, hasn’t campaigned heavily on the economy’s strength, focusing instead on the stagnation of middle class incomes. This week, she proposed measures to reduce college costs.

The campaign will intensify in coming weeks, with the Republican convention starting in 10 days and the Democrats’ convention following a week later.

Friday’s report painted a broadly encouraging picture. The number of part-time workers who would prefer full-time jobs fell sharply. And hiring occurred in both higher and lower-paying sectors. Manufacturers added 14,000 jobs, the most since January. Professional and business services, a category that includes accountants, engineers and architects as well as temporary workers, gained 38,000. Retailers added nearly 30,000, health care over 58,000.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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