The story in yesterday's Maui News about the rate of the economic recovery in Hawaii contained a lot of good news.
Yes, the vacation industry continues to pace the recovery with a record number of 7.7 visitors expected this year in the state. Increased airline seats for all islands is an indication this growth will continue. Those seats are up some 8 percent this year over last.
One unexpected piece of good news in the story was that statewide building permits jumped 46.2 percent in the first quarter compared with the same period in 2011. The state's chief economist, Eugene Tian, said permits for alterations and additions climbed an astonishing 88 percent. Tian said much of that work involved the installation of solar panels.
Statewide, though, permits for commercial properties increased 28 percent. Residential permits were down 1 percent - reflecting the uncertainty still present in residential real estate. Tian said the results of the increased permitting will probably be seen in the second half of this year, explaining that construction generally occurs some six months after the permits are drawn.
While yesterday's story didn't break down where the majority of the permits were drawn, one can only hope that a significant number of them were on Maui. As University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization's Dr. Carl Bonham told a Maui Chamber of Commerce audience two weeks ago, the construction industry was especially hard hit here by the recession. Bonham said some 3,500 construction jobs were lost on Maui.
The state is projecting the economy will grow at a 2.2 percent pace this year and another 2.3 percent next year.
The numbers from the state indicate that we are going from recovery to growth. Now we need the phenomenal performance of the visitor industry to seep over into our retail, construction and real estate sectors.
* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.