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Economy beginning to benefit from tourism strength

By Star-Advertiser Staff

LAST UPDATED: 2:21 p.m. HST, Oct 30, 2012

The strength in Hawaii’s visitor industry is beginning to spread to other sectors of the economy but it could take another two years to regain all the jobs lost in the recent economic downturn, one of the state’s top economists said today.

Gross domestic product, the broadest measure of state economic activity, is expected to grow by 1.5 percent this year and 2.3 percent in 2013 after adjusting for inflation, according to a forecast by Leroy Laney professor of economics and finance at Hawaii Pacific University, and economic adviser to First Hawaiian Bank.

 “There are some bright spots besides tourism. Those bright spots – in a housing market that shows signs of turning, in retailing, in auto sales and in some other areas – are cause for cautious optimism as we head into 2013,” Laney told business leaders gathered for First Hawaiian Bank’s annual Business Outlook Forum.

“Our gradual recovery following the 2008-2009 Great Recession has been very slow, like everywhere else, but on a more optimistic  note it has been fairly steady,” Laney said.

Laney said a statewide job count index is roughly 95 percent of where it was at its pre-recession peak.

“It could quite possibly be 2014 before we are back at the same level of jobs,” he said.  “I think it all depends on how quickly the strength in the business industry is disseminated to other sectors of the economy. We are seeing signs of that, But we’d like to see it accelerate,” Laney said.

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