Saturday, March 10, 2007

Hawaii jobless rate edges up slightly, another dose of reality

This in the midst of their busiest time of year!

Hawaii jobless rate edges up slightly
The rate in January moved up to 2.2% from its historic low of 2.0% in December

"Hawaii's vibrant and expanding economy continues to produce new jobs that are providing employment to a substantial number of our residents," Labor Department Director Nelson Befitel said.
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I was recently back in the islands, Maui to be exact where I lived for nine years. As a resident who managed to last more than the critical first three years that usually sends the majority packing for the return trip from whence they came, I learned a few things about that microcosm of planet life.

First: Things are not always as they appear.

Second: Read First

Third: There is a considerable amount of greed and avarice in a population as intensely competive as Hawaii.

Let's face it, if you have ever been, you have entertained fantasies of life there under a palm tree sipping Margaritas. So has the rest of the planet, but on Maui there is a static population of around 130,000 residence. That might tell you something.

There is an old island saying: It's an island, if you didn't bring it with you, you won't find it here.
There in lies the crux of the issue. Competition for resources, it gives some a reason to spew false information.

When I was on Maui, even my most respected friends seemed to swallow the idea that Maui was the exception to the rule and a housing downturn ‘could not happen here’. They trumpeted their low unemployment numbers as one measure of the island’s success. More on that…

Back around 2002 I saw housing prices reaching to the sky but wages remaining static. I reasoned that given the difference in costs of living to incomes many a wage earner would soon be packing for the mainland, leaving the island in need of employable workers. You can’t live on the island for $20.00 per hour, let alone average pay is only a paltry $10.00 to $12.00. The numbers just don't pencil out.

Low unemployment, - or no one left on the island to fill those jobs?

Also as I drove around over the month that I was there I not only saw a huge number of for sale signs on front lawns but they seemed to pop up like weeds as I watched.
The Maui MLS shows falling inventory but do your own search of FSBOs and you will notice a large increase in ‘sell it yourself’ listings off of the MLS. I reason that is in some measure related to the need to squeeze out every penny to cover original purchase price or greed. Why pay an R/E agent 6% of $600,000. or more to fill out some papers?

Bottom line is, Maui is for sale, and many of the people I know who live there won’t hear of it! In fact I made the mistake of having one too many cocktails and told some friends at a gathering what I saw happening to housing on the island as we sat there. I became an instant outcast.
They didn’t want to be awakened from the warm waterfall dream to find it was only them wetting their beds. I kept my mouth shut for the rest of the trip.

In the mean time, if you can afford to live on Maui on $12. per hour, there are plenty of jobs available! And many houses for sale.

Caveat: Less than $750,000 will get you into a rough neighborhood.
Vern

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