During the depths of the recent recession, Maui County shed around 10,000 jobs. In the last two years, though, we have regained over half of those jobs that were lost.
Those figures were among numbers presented by Carl Bonham of the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization to a gathering of the Maui Chamber of Commerce on Thursday.
Bonham's comments were part of the annual economic update sponsored by American Savings Bank.
The UHERO economist told the gathering that prior to the recession in 2007, there were approximately 72,000 jobs in Maui County. That number dipped to the "low 60s" in 2009 before the visitor industry lead a rebound to the current number of just over 67,000.
The construction industry suffered the biggest losses - some 3,500 jobs were lost. They still trail in the recovery. Overall, though, Bonham said job growth on Maui would be around 2 percent this year. He also noted that we led Hawaii last year with a 2 percent gain in jobs.
Bonham's message was one of optimism. The visitor industry on Maui - led by a huge influx of Canadians - is heading back to very good times. The number of Canadian visitors here grew 13.6 percent last year over 2010. That more than offset slightly lower numbers from the Mainland.
For 2012, Bonham is projecting a growth of 4 percent in visitor arrivals on Maui. The economist said that the increased demand is allowing room rates to rise again; and visitor expenditures are back to pre-recession levels.
Both real estate and retail markets are stabilizing.
Certainly, Bonham's message Thursday was the most uplifting one he has given in recent years. As he noted, the recovery is slower than we'd want, but it seems to be steady.
After a couple of years of recession, that is indeed good news.
* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.