Construction boom, tourism recovery keep Guam unemployment steady at 4%
GovGuam employees’ weekly pay up 12% compared to private sector's 6%
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
Guam’s unemployment rate remained at a steady 4 percent in June 2023, unchanged from the December 2022 figure of 4 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The labor agency’s second quarter report also showed that government employees’ weekly pay jumped 12.3 percent over the year, compared to the private sector employees’ 6.1 percent during the same period.
GovGuam employees had average weekly earnings of $1,243.76 in June this year, going up from $1,107.65 in June last year.
During the same period, private sector employees made an average of $663.70 a week in June this year, up from $625.74 in June last year.
“In comparison to December 2019 pre-pandemic to June 2023, private sector average hourly earnings have increased from $14.55 to $18.26, average weekly hours paid have nearly recovered from 36.7 to 36.3 and average weekly earnings increased from $534.36 to $663.70,” according to Gary Hiles, chief economist at the Guam Department of Labor.
The unemployment rate also saw a reduction of 0.8 percent from the June 2022 figure of 4.8 percent.
The June 2023 Current Employment Report shows the number of jobs dipped by 1,450 compared to the previous quarter but was still up by 2,420 year-over-year. Private sector employment decreased by 830 in the latest quarter but remained up by 1,990 over the year.
The June 2023 preliminary statistics show total private sector industry employment increases over the year by industry division were greatest in Construction which gained 1,740 jobs, Hotels added 600 and Retail Trade 460.
“The unemployment numbers show the resiliency in our economy despite the global pandemic and the devastation from Typhoon Mawar,” acting Gov. Joshua Tenorio said.
“As we continue the work to restore tourism to pre-pandemic levels, we will continue our efforts to expand and prepare our workforce to meet the needs of our island,” he added.
The June 2023 Current Employment Report notes that the decline in jobs can be attributed to several factors, including summer employment in educational institutions that support them, but this number is expected to rebound in September.
The survey was also conducted three weeks after Typhoon Mawar, when employment was temporarily depressed in tourism-related and other industries.
Hiles noted that the increases over the year occurred despite a dip, which appears to be temporary, of 830 jobs in June following Typhoon Mawar.
“This increased employment through June 2023 is primarily associated with increased construction activities at the Marine Corps Camp Blaz base in addition to civilian commercial and residential construction as well as government roads and utilities,” Hiles said.
“Increased hotel and retail trade activity is largely driven by continuing substantial tourist arrival recovery from the pandemic lows as well as increased consumer incomes from this activity,” he added.