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When the state imposes age restrictions on consumption of certain goods and services, potential customers often look for ways to avoid these restrictions. “Border-hopping” refers to the practice of crossing a state’s border from the state that has stricter restrictions to the state with more lenient age policies and is well documented in reference to alcohol consumption and the use of reproductive services (including abortion services). The recent study “Behind-the-counter, but Over-the-border?” by UHERO’s Dr. Inna Cintina applies the same concept to emergency contraception (EC).
EC may effectively prevent unwanted pregnancy if taken promptly after unprotected sexual intercourse. Although some forms of EC were available on an off-label basis for nearly 30 years, it formally received FDA approval on a prescription basis only in the late 1990s. In 2006, the FDA lifted the prescription requirement for women age 18 and older. In 2009, the FDA dropped the age requirement to 17, and in 2013 to 15 years of age.
Since EC efficacy is inversely related to the duration between intercourse and the time it is taken, prescription requirements can make it less effective. Between 1998 and 2006, eight states took steps to relax the prescription requirements, making EC available behind-the-counter* without an age restriction. Washington State was the first state to implement collaborative drug therapy agreements between physicians and pharmacists, essentially increasing the availability of EC. The study “Behind-the-counter, but Over-the-border?” focuses on the Washington state experience and identification of potential spillover effects on neighboring states. The study finds some evidence in support of spillover effects in Idaho, but not Oregon. After accounting for changes in the availability of abortion services, the decrease in fertility rates in Idaho counties with a no-prescription EC pharmacy in close proximity is rather small and models lack sufficient power to detect it.
In Hawaii EC became available without a doctor’s prescription in 2003. Since Hawaii is fairly isolated state, the costs of border-hopping outweigh the potential benefits and spillover effects are unlikely. Figure below shows abortion rate** per 1,000 women age 15-44 in Hawaii, by county of residence.
Between 1996 and 2003 abortion rates were declining in Hawaii, Kauai, and Maui counties and were relatively stable in Honolulu County. After 2003, the abortion rate in Maui County continued a decreasing trend. In contrast, for at least two years, abortions rates had increased in Hawaii and Kauai counties. In Honolulu County abortion rates increased sharply after 2004. The dynamic of the county specific rates may have been affected by the availability of reproductive services, pharmacist participation in collaborative agreements, the general dissemination of information among potential customers as well as a number of other factors. A more rigorous analysis is needed to identify the impact of increased availability of EC on fertility rates in Hawaii after 2003.
*A formation of collaborative drug therapy agreements between physicians and pharmacists allowed the pharmacists to make an independent assessment of a woman’s need for EC and a decision to dispense EC without a doctor’s prescription. But he still had to follow the established drug therapy protocol therefore the EC was not on the shelves.
**Abortion rate is defined as the total number of abortions in a county divided by the female population age 15-44 in that county.
The latest visitor highlights from the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) show that both visitor arrivals and spending continued to increase through the first quarter of 2013, albeit at a slower rate than last year. However visitors to the state appear to be booking shorter trips and spending less at local shops, perhaps in response to higher hotel room rates.
In the first quarter of 2013 more than 2 million visitors flew to the state, 6.5% more than in the first quarter of last year. US mainland arrivals grew by an impressive 6.4%, though some of the gains may be attributable to seasonal changes. With Easter and the Spring Break falling in March this year, some of the domestic arrivals growth may be the result of Mainland travelers visiting the state in March instead of April. International arrivals also increased with arrivals from the two largest international markets, Japan and Canada, growing by 5.3% and 3.1% respectively. The fastest growing source of arrivals continues to be non-traditional markets around the Pacific. With new direct flights to the state the number of visitors from Oceania grew significantly, Australian arrivals increased by 30% while the number of visitors from New Zealand almost doubled. Visitors from China also increased by more than 40%, but despite rapid growth in the past several years, Chinese visitors still make up a relatively small share of the overall visitor mix.
While the number of visitors flying to the state increased in the first quarter, the length of the average trip fell for visitors from all markets. Visitor days, an alternative measure of visitor volume that takes into account both the number of visitors and length of stay, edged up only 2.6% as a result. Length of stay fell only slightly for US mainland and Japanese visitors but the effect was much more pronounced among other visitors. The average Canadian visit was 6% shorter, offsetting the modest increase in arrivals; Canadian visitor days fell by 3%. Despite robust arrivals growth, an 11% fall in length of stay among other international arrivals netted out to a small loss in visitor days from these fast growing non-traditional markets.
Visitors spent more than $3.9 billion in the state during the first quarter of the year, 7.5% more than the same quarter last year. While total spending increased, the data suggest that visitors spent more on rooms but cut back on shopping. The average visitor spent 12% more on lodging and 9% less shopping each day. Japanese visitors, who tend to be the biggest shoppers, seem to have cut back the most; the average Japanese visitor spent 18% less shopping each day compared to last year. That works out to each Japanese visitor spending roughly $100 less in local shops over the course of their entire visit. In our recent labor market update we noted a surprising slowdown in retail hiring in the first quarter. This new data confirms that visitors are indeed spending less at local retailers compared to last year, which could be a factor in retail hiring decisions.
Overall the first quarter was a positive one for the local visitor industry, though there are a few signs for concern. The number of visitors to the state continues to grow but the cost of a Hawaii vacation may be starting to weigh on some travelers. With lodging supply essentially fixed in the near term, the robust arrivals growth allowed hotels to keep raising their room rates. Some visitors are reacting to the higher lodging cost by reducing their length of stay and by spending less on other items.
-- James Jones and Peter Fuleky
* this post was updated on May 10, 2013
Although slightly slower than in the second half of last year, conditions in the local job market continued to improve in the first quarter of 2013 according to the latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The total number of nonfarm jobs in the state grew by 1.6% in the first quarter of 2013 compared to the same period last year; resulting in roughly 6,000 more jobs on Oahu and almost 4,000 more jobs across the Neighbor Islands.
Job creation picked up in a wide range of sectors, indicating that the recovery has spread beyond just tourism. Construction led the pack with industry payrolls expanding by almost 9%, adding more than 2,500 jobs compared to the first quarter of 2012. The local construction sector still has a way to go on the road to recovery but the outlook is encouraging; see our latest forecast for the details. The broad leisure and hospitality sector continued to add jobs as the local tourism industry keeps breaking records; the sector added 1,800 jobs. There was also significant hiring in administrative services (which includes temporary staffing firms) and health care; each of the two sectors added roughly 1,700 jobs. The expansive “other services” sector that includes a variety of industries from auto repair to dog grooming also grew, adding almost 1,400 jobs.
A handful of sectors cut jobs, with the largest cuts occurring in the federal government. Federal government jobs in the state fell by 2.1%, a loss of more than 700 jobs. The data suggest most of the job losses were concentrated in ship building and other divisions within the Department of Defense (DOD). This was likely, at least in part, the result of a civilian hiring freeze and the layoff of temporary workers put into place in the run up to the “sequestration” budget cuts. While lawmakers in Washington continue to wrangle over the federal budget, it remains highly uncertain whether these jobs will return or if more layoffs will be coming. Defense officials have signaled that furloughs could be in store for DOD civilians later this year, though it’s unclear how many Hawaii workers would be affected.
After a strong year in 2012, retail hiring started off 2013 surprisingly slow with no new jobs created. Moreover, retail employees were working fewer hours: the average work week fell 4.3% from 32.1 to 30.8 hours per week. While it’s too early to sound the alarm, limited hiring and scaled back hours could indicate some potential weakness in the local retail sector. Perhaps consumers have started to cut back on spending in response to the expiration of the payroll tax holiday. Alternatively, visitors faced with higher room rates, or an unfavorable exchange rate in the case of Japanese visitors, may be opting to spend less at local retailers. Check back to UHERO as we monitor this and other developments in the local economy as they unfold this year!
--James Jones and Peter Fuleky
Over the years, the term “watershed” has evolved from signifying the divide separating one drainage basin from another to the drainage basin itself. A drainage basin or catchment area is a section of land drained by a river and all of its tributaries. Watersheds come in all shapes and sizes, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that there are 2,267 watersheds in the United States and Puerto Rico alone. In Hawai‘i, much of the water captured in our watersheds eventually drains into subsurface groundwater aquifers.
Watershed conservation activities (e.g. feral animal control, non-native weed control, native reforestation) can increase the amount of water captured as groundwater recharge, which is especially important given that groundwater provides 99 percent of Hawaii’s domestic drinking water. The benefit of a healthy watershed becomes even clearer when one considers the increasing trend in water scarcity owing to a growing population, rising per capita income, and climate change. Ecosystem services generated by a watershed area extend well beyond groundwater recharge provision, however.
A previous UHERO study estimates that the present value of ecosystem services generated by natural capital embodied in the Ko‘olau Watershed is in the range of $7.4-14.0 billion, assuming that the state of the watershed remains at the status quo and groundwater is optimally managed. While the benefits associated with water resources ($4.7-9.2 billion) are by far the largest, a variety of other ecosystem services also generate substantial value: species habitats ($0.5-1.4 billion), biodiversity ($0.7-5.5 million), subsistence ($34.7-131 million), hunting ($62.8-237 million), aesthetic values ($1-3.1 billion), commercial harvest ($0.6-2.4 million), and ecotourism ($1-3.0 billion). Other services which are difficult or impossible to quantify, such as cultural importance, increase the total value further.
-- Chris Wada
Researchers at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa recently concluded a study into the potential for seawater air conditioning (SWAC) in Waikīkī. The study was led by the University of Hawai‘i Sea Grant College Program (UH Sea Grant) in partnership with the the Economic Research Organization at the University of Hawai‘i (UHERO) to investigate various aspects of seawater air conditioning and its applicability to Waikīkī. In examining the appropriateness of SWAC technology, researchers compared SWAC with ‘business as usual’ and various renewable energy and other energy efficiency options. Each option was analyzed in terms of: 1) generation capacity; 2) applicability to existing policy standards; 3) economic factors; 4) environmental and social factors; and, 5) energy and supply security.
According to the findings of the report, while SWAC may be more costly than other efficiency/conservation options, its ability to provide an uninterrupted supply of cool air gives it a solid advantage over the use of more intermittent renewable energy technologies (such as wind and solar power) for air conditioning purposes. For Waikīkī, where demand for air conditioning is constant, SWAC has the potential to decrease the cost of air conditioning and reduce the amount of harmful emissions that are released as a by-product of generating electricity from fossil fuels.
Traditional air conditioning systems require large amounts of energy to cool air to the desired temperature. In contrast, SWAC technology harnesses the cooling properties of cold seawater to achieve the same purpose, reducing the amount of electricity required. SWAC is particularly relevant to Hawai‘i, where the close proximity of deep, cold, ocean water to areas of high population make it an ideal location to implement the technology. In addition, the first seawater air conditioning unit was invented by a UH Sea Grant researcher in the early 1980’s.
When surveyed, 62 percent of O‘ahu residents indicated support for SWAC development in Waikīkī, compared to 8 percent opposed and 30 percent neither supporting nor opposing. Individuals more familiar with SWAC technology were more likely to support its development than those who were not aware of the technology (69 percent in favor compared to 54 percent). Slightly less than half of O‘ahu residents, 46 percent, also supported the use of public funds to help develop SWAC in Waikīkī, versus 26 percent opposed and the remaining 28 percent neither supporting nor opposing.
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The University of Hawai’i Sea Grant College Program is part of the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa’s prestigious School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology. It supports an innovative program of research, education and extension services directed to the improved understanding and stewardship of coastal and marine resources of the state, region and nation. Science serving Hawai’i and the Pacific for over 40 years.
UHERO is a unit within the College of Social Sciences (CSS) at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. Established in 1997, UHERO is dedicated to informing public- and private-sector decision making through rigorous, independent economic research on the people, environment and economies of Hawai‘i and the Asia-Pacific region.
The College of Social Sciences (CSS) at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa is engaged in a broad range of research endeavors that address fundamental questions about human behavior and the workings of local, national and international political, social, economic and cultural institutions. Its vibrant student-centered academic climate supports outstanding scholarship through internships, and active and service learning approaches to teaching that prepare students for the life-long pursuit of knowledge.