Hawaii is still no business paradise
A report on states' economic well-being gives low scores to Hawaii for business vitality and economic future.
AS long as memory can serve, Hawaii has been known as one of the worst, if not the
worst, state to conduct business. The most recent ratings sustain that reputation as less than paradise for wage-earners, businesses and investors, despite defenses made by local economists.
The report card by the Corporation for Enterprise Development gave Hawaii an "F" in the areas of business competitiveness and entrepreneurial energy and its position for future economic growth. The state scored "C" in its performance for residents.
Hawaii's lowest unemployment rate in the country helped it score a respectable grade in the third category, despite what the report called "the highest rate of forced part-time employment, indicating a lack of available full-time jobs." That accurately describes the many people who work full-time and part-time jobs to make ends meet in Hawaii's expensive marketplace.
Factors in the state's failure in vitality were its low industrial diversity and "very little" employment in the technology industry. The report suggests a need to focus on "cultivating and supporting homegrown businesses" to create full-time jobs and diversify the economy.
As for future growth, the report raises concerns about the elementary school children's low reading and math proficiency, "poorly maintained physical infrastructure" and high energy and housing costs.
Paul Brewbaker, the Bank of Hawaii's chief economist, provides the rosy explanation that "there's a lot of people that want to work part time" so they can go surfing in the morning. And Tom Smyth, senior adviser for the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, explains that while fuel costs are more expensive in Hawaii, "residents drive less and don't rely on heaters or air conditioners." That fails to recognize that businesses use air conditioning year-round and traffic congestion keeps motorists idling in traffic for long stretches of time.
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