At peak, Hawaii
job growth
topped nation’s

The state added 3.1 percent
more jobs between 1999 and
2000, before the recession

By Lyn Danninger

Payroll and job growth among Hawaii's private businesses showed a healthy increase from 1999 to 2000, according to new U.S. Census bureau data covering the period.

The number of jobs in Hawaii grew by 3.1 percent between 1999 and 2000 while payroll grew by 5.7 percent to just over $12 billion. The overall number of jobs in the nation increased by 3.0 percent for the same period.

According to the report, the number of Hawaii jobs and payroll in most categories of business and industry increased throughout the period.

Construction showed robust growth, adding more than 2,000 jobs, a jump of 9.8 percent. Payroll in the construction industry for the period grew 17.3 percent.

In the retail sector, the number of jobs grew by 5.1 percent while payroll increased by 3.9 percent. Accommodation and food services also showed slight growth, up 0.9 percent during the 1999-2000 period.

In the health care and social service arena, 1,136 jobs were added during the period, reflecting a growth of 2.3 percent. Payroll in that sector increased by 4.7 percent to a total of just over $1.7 billion.

One area showing a slight decrease was finance and insurance. The number of jobs in that sector decreased by about 6 percent.

Job growth and average pay numbers today are probably not yet back to the levels of 2000, said Leroy Laney, economics professor at Hawaii Pacific University and consultant to First Hawaiian Bank.

Even before the events of Sept. 11, the economy had already started to cool off, he said.

"We're probably not in as good a shape. We went through a mild recession and are probably emerging from that now," Laney said. "But we are not in bad shape. It turned out to be an uneven recession, it wasn't that deep and hit only certain sectors."

On a national level, the census data showed that the California county of Santa Clara experienced the biggest percentage increase in both jobs and payroll from 1999 to 2000.

According to the report, jobs in San Jose, the center of the dot-com explosion and the most populous city in Santa Clara County grew by 6.2 percent. Among counties with the largest gains in payroll, Santa Clara again topped the list, increasing payroll by 36.7 percent.

Among states, Colorado showed the biggest employment growth from 1999 to 2000, reporting a 5 percent increase in jobs.

Tech-heavy California topped the list for the highest annual payroll, growing by some 15.2 percent to more than $514 billion.

The highest average salaries in the nation during the period could be found in Washington, D.C., where the average pay for employees came in at $48,157. By contrast, the lowest salaries paid in the nation could be found in Montana where the average pay per employee was just $22,983.

In Hawaii, the average salary for the period was $28,538.

Overall, Laney said he is optimistic about economic growth in Hawaii but said it will likely take longer a while to get back to the peak.

"It could be later this year or early next year," he said.

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