Thursday, May 10, 2001

Wouldn’t you like
to be a techie too?

Hawaii's economy is growing on the backs of the state's high-tech sector. "Hawaii's Expanding Tech Sector," a state Department of Business Economic Development and Tourism report released this week, found 17 percent job growth between 1996 and 1999.

It might be surprising to learn just who the state -- and the federal government, by the way -- includes in the high-tech work force. They don't all wear "space suits" for the manufacture of microchips.

DBEDT economist Bob Shore said employers are categorized according to a standard industrial classification code.

The largest tech-sector employer at 53 percent -- telecommunications -- includes such companies as Verizon Hawaii and wireless phone companies, but it also includes radio and television broadcasters and cable TV. Retailers such as CompUSA are also included.

"We have retail sales in both telecom and info-tech (categories)," Shore said, because "they're included in the national definition. Even though they're in sales, they play an important part in interfacing with nontechnical people."

He acknowledged the 12,400 employees in Hawaii's private high-tech sector include retail sales clerks, ad sales people and administrative staff members at cable and broadcast outlets, and radio personalities.

Top-rated KSSK morning show hosts Michael W. Perry and Larry Price were amused to learn of their designation as part of the high-tech work force.

"I feel more like a prisoner of technology," said Price, who added that "mentioning broadcasting and software design in the same breath is almost sacrilegious."

Upon learning of his employment classification, Perry said "Perry and Price dot com just sank 75 percent."

However, he agreed that CompUSA sales floor personnel should be considered high-tech employees. "I don't understand anything when I go in there, so it must be high-tech," Perry said.

Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin.
Call 529-4302, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle,
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210,
Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached

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