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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, January 31, 2003

State's economic indicator up again

By John Duchemin
Advertiser Staff Writer

The state's leading economic indicator rose for the ninth-straight month, leading Hawai'i government economists to call it a sign of continued recovery, despite the looming prospect of war in the Middle East.

The indicator, which is an index composed of 10 local, national and international indicators, is designed to predict economic trends several months in advance.

The longer the upswing, the clearer the positive trend, said Theodore Liu, director of the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

"This index continues to suggest that Hawai'i's gradual economic recovery will continue in the coming months," Liu said. "However, that outlook must be tempered by uncertainties in the international security situation, which the index cannot predict."

Six of the 10 components of the indicator were positive in October, the latest month for which the figures are available. Four out of five national and international components rose, suggesting greater strength in those areas than in previous months. Three of five Hawai'i indicators fell. The components are volatile and subject to monthly swings.

Since mid-2002, Hawai'i's economy has been slowly recovering from the declines experienced after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, which caused would-be tourists to stay home and hotels, retailers and transportation companies to lay off thousands of Hawai'i workers.

Income has returned to mild growth and visitor arrivals have stabilized, though they are still well off the peak levels of several years ago. Tourism employers also have still not rehired many laid-off workers.