The Maui News

WAILUKU, Maui (Dec. 26) – Having Christmas Day fall on a Saturday may have taken some of the stress out of the preparations. For many, Friday was also a holiday – one full day to attend to all those last-minute details and to shop.

Retailers were reporting good sales, an important element of the state’s economy with many smaller stores depending on holiday sales to get them through the entire year.

It was yet another indication of just how robust the island economy is. Last week, the state reported personal income rose 6.3 percent during the third quarter of the year compared with the same period last year. The November jobless rate was level at a seasonally adjusted 3.3 percent, the third lowest rate nationwide.

As of Dec. 20, bankruptcy filings across the state were down by 14 percent compared with all of 2003.

The chief economist for the Bank of Hawaii, Paul Brewbaker, was quoted as saying, "This is as good as it gets." There was a warning implicit in that comment if the future is viewed only in terms of major expansion.

At the same time economic indicators were rosy for the state, a poll of 458 chief executives across the nation ranked Hawaii as the fifth least attractive state for business. The survey released by Chief Executive Magazine indicated doing business was toughest in California followed by New York, Massachusetts, Washington and Hawaii. Texas, Nevada and Florida were ranked on the other end of the scale which considered taxation, labor laws and regulations.

Of course, such surveys are really a matter of perception. As the state’s economy proves, it is possible to make considerable sums of money in the islands. Imagine what the economy might be like if the state and counties took a sober look at all the business regulations on the books. Many of these are protectionist in nature, written in days when the islands were less tied in to the world economy, and may have outlived their usefulness.

There are many aspects of island life that demand protection, but many small businesses – the most promising area for economic expansion – are unnecessarily hampered by government regulations often so complicated that even the officials don’t understand them all.

December 27, 2004

The Maui News: www.mauinews.com


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