O'ahu may lose 10,710 jobs, study says
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Advertiser Staff and News Services
The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks could cost Honolulu an estimated 10,710 jobs this year, more than 2.5 percent of the city's total and ranking it among one of the hardest-hit locations across the country, according to a study released today.
Ford Motor Co. is expected to announce job cuts of anywhere from about 12,000 to 20,000 this morning, when it discloses its long-awaited restructuring plan. Forecasters are expecting job losses to spread nationwide.
"The shock waves of the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon are still pulsing through the American economy. And with the economic injury focused predominantly on a handful of sectors travel, tourism, lodging, dining and recreation the consequences for individuals and unique localities have been profound," the report said.
Honolulu has suffered an economic reversal since September as hotels, airlines, cruise lines, Waikiki retailers, and other employers laid off hundreds of workers. Thousands of residents filed for unemployment benefits. More cuts are anticipated through the first quarter this year as employers deal with the continued slowdown in Japanese travel.
Still, the report's forecast for Honolulu seems more pessimistic than what official job numbers are showing. Honolulu had 4,000 fewer jobs in October 2001 than in October 2000, a 1 percent drop, according to federal job surveys. But for the year as a whole, Hawai'i job forecasters estimate the Honolulu job count rose, whereas the Milken study estimates a drop of nearly 1.4 percent, or about 6,000 jobs.
The study's prediction of a 2.5 percent drop in Honolulu jobs this year also seems more pessimistic than what state forecasters expect to be a Hawai'i-wide drop of between 0.5 percent and 0.9 percent. To fit with the state forecasts, a 2.5 percent drop in Honolulu would have to be balanced with a strong increase on the Neighbor Islands.
A survey of Hawai'i employers by Manpower International Inc., an international staffing firm, found that the majority of employers are uncertain about where the economy is headed and plan to keep their payroll level unchanged at least through the first quarter.
"I think we have seen the worst," said Doris Hannaford, Hawai'i-area manager for Manpower International. "Where we were looking at significant cuts a few months ago, we are now looking at only slight or moderate cuts."
Nationwide, the Milken study estimates 760,000 jobs will be lost in 2002 as a direct result of the attacks, with most of those coming in the travel and tourism sectors. The remaining 840,000 positions will come from ripple effects on other industries such as retail.
The losses will come in addition to the 248,000 jobs lost in 2001 as a result of the attacks, the study says.
Las Vegas will prove the single most vulnerable metropolitan area in percentage terms: The report said it is likely to see nearly 5 percent fewer jobs this year. Casino workers have taken some of the toughest blows, with one of every 20 casino jobs in the Las Vegas Valley lost in the first six weeks after the attacks.
Still, most cities are expected to begin to recover in 2003, with the exception of New York, which should start its rebound a year later, the study says.
"The good news is that many of those jobs should come back," said Ross DeVol, director of regional studies at the Milken Institute.
The U.S. Labor Department, which tallies job losses, said a total of 1.1 million jobs were lost from September through December. Those four months account for all but 300,000 of the jobs lost since the recession began in March, the department's statistics show.
The Milken report reviewed 315 cities and used economic models to extrapolate employment losses based on each metro area's economic trends prior to Sept. 11.