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Economic Currents

Keep up to date with the latest UHERO news.

Hawaii Greenhouse Gas Emissions Report for 2015

UHERO's Makena Coffman, Paul Bernstein, and Maja Schjervheim have contributed to the latest report released by the Hawaii Department of Health, Clean Air Branch on Hawaii's Green House Gas emissions.

This report was prepared to assess the State's progress toward its goal of reducing its emissions levels to at or below 1990 levels by 2020. The final report is available here: https://health.hawaii.gov/cab/files/2019/02/2015-Inventory_Final-Report_January-2019-004-1.pdf

Benchmarking for a clearer employment picture

Posted February 6, 2019 | Categories: Hawaii's Economy, Blog

The most widely cited measure of labor market activity in Hawaii comes from the Current Employment Statistics (CES) program, jointly managed by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DLIR). This program surveys a sample of local firms every month to produce an estimate of job counts in a wide range of industries. The CES job counts are available with a relatively short lag of roughly five weeks, providing quick feedback about new labor market developments. However, the program surveys only a relatively small number of firms.

The Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) program produces an alternative set of employment indicators. Instead of surveying firms, the QCEW program relies on unemployment insurance records, and it is able to produce a much more accurate count of payrolls in each industry. But this process is much more time consuming, and the data is released once per quarter with a five to six month lag.

To reconcile these two sets of indicators, at the beginning of each year the BLS produces a comprehensive benchmark revision of the CES job counts. The benchmark process adjusts the CES figures to match the available job counts from the QCEW program. In some cases this can result in substantial revisions, potentially changing our assessment of economic conditions. For example, preliminary CES figures indicated that payrolls in the local construction industry had edged down slowly over the course of 2017, but the benchmark revision made it clear that job losses had been much more substantial. The benchmarked industry job count for the fourth quarter of 2017 was 1,400 jobs lower than preliminary figures suggested.

To anticipate changes that will likely be made in the official benchmark revision, UHERO has developed a continuous in-house benchmarking process. Each quarter as new QCEW data is released, we use the historical relationship between the CES and QCEW job counts to obtain an early estimate of the benchmarked CES job counts. These internally benchmarked job counts allow us to produce a more accurate assessment of recent developments in the local labor market and improve our near-term economic outlook.

We are predicting fairly substantial changes in the upcoming benchmark revision. We expect that most industries will see a slight positive revision for 2017 and a negative revision for 2018. As a result, benchmarked job growth for this year will be much slower than currently reported in official statistics. Our internal benchmark suggests that through the fourth quarter of 2018, year-to-date nonfarm job growth has averaged only 0.7% compared with 1.7% according to the official preliminary figures. We expect downward revisions in the healthcare industry and in accommodation and food services, where job gains remained lackluster throughout 2018.

Benchmarked job growth for this year will be much slower than currently reported in official statistics

- Peter Fuleky, James Jones, Ashley Hirashima, and Rachel Inafuku


UHERO at Governor Ige's Biosecurity and Invasive Species Initiative workshop

UHERO’s Kimberly Burnett was invited by Governor David Ige to participate in a panel discussion focused on the economic impacts of invasive species at the Western Governors’ Association Biosecurity and Invasive Species Initiative workshop in Waimea, Hawaii on December 9-10, 2018. 

The goal is to examine emerging issues in biosecurity and invasive species management and develop a set of policy recommendations, best practices, and technical tools to address those issues.

Dr. Frank Wolak: "How Should the Public Utilities Commission Regulate Hawaiian Electric Company for Better Integration of Renewable Energy?"

On Friday November 2, Frank Wolak, the Holbrook Working Professor of Economics at Stanford and Director of Stanford’s Program on Energy and Sustainable Development, gave a special seminar “How Should the Public Utilities Commission Regulate Hawaiian Electric Company for Better Integration of Renewable Energy?” His talk summarized the many ways conventional regulation and rate design creates inefficiency in our electricity system. To lower costs of high-renewable system, he argues that Hawai’i should embrace a “cost based” market in which long-term competitive contracts for power would be used in conjunction with regulated optimization model that would set real-time prices for buying and selling of electricity and grid services.

Below is video of his talk and a link to his slides. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uX7HuyeUOOA This special seminar, organized by Governing Green Power (www2.hawaii.edu/~govgreen/), was co-sponsored by UHERO and Sea Grant.

Carl Bonham presented with the AUBER Fellow Award

Posted November 5, 2018 | Categories: Blog

UHERO’s Carl Bonham was recently presented with the AUBER Fellow Award, recognizing a lifetime achievement for a center director who has demonstrated significant leadership and substantial service to AUBER (Association for University Business and Economic Research). Congratulations, Carl!

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