Guam's unemployment rate dips to 4.8%
Updated: Oct 25
But more than 50,000 people 'did not want a job'
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
The unemployment rate in Guam fell to 4.8 percent in June 2022, representing a continued downward trend in unemployment. This is the lowest unemployment rate reported since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“This is a sign of a stabilizing economy and that our island is headed in the direction of continued growth," Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero said.
Gary Hiles, chief economist at the Guam Department of Labor, said the island's economic recovery has accelerated substantially in recent months.
"Tourism and construction are on the upswing," he said. "Statistical indicators of this are increased Government of Guam revenue receipts, increased tourist arrivals, increased employment, increased average number of hours worked, increased average weekly wage, and declining unemployment rates."
Despite the downward trend in unemployment, the number of people "outside the civilian labor" went up from 51,480 in March to 54,200 in June. Of this number, 50,670 "did not want a job" during the survey period.
In addition to a decline in the unemployment rate, other highlights from the U.S. Department of Labor's report include an increase in the total number of payroll jobs by 2,130; a boost in private sector hourly earnings by $1.07, going from $16.06 to $17.13 year-over-year; and a surge of nearly $74 in weekly earnings, from $551.77 to $625.74.
The average number of hours worked per week in the private sector also increased from 34.3 to 36.5.
Tourism numbers began a substantial rebound from South Korea when their travel restrictions were eased in April 2022.
Korea arrivals were only 1.4 percent of pre-pandemic arrivals for March 2022 compared to March 2019. By June they increased to 26.1 percent and by September they reached 29.4 percent of the comparable months' pre-pandemic arrivals.
“There’s good news across the board. With more people working, hours increasing, hourly rates up, and more training programs available, now is a great time to be working or to expand skill sets. Our administration is optimistic about the future of employment on Guam,” said Lt. Gov. Josh Tenorio.
In fiscal 2022, Department of Defense construction contracts reached nearly $800 million and exceeded all records for Guam.
Civilian building permits for FY 2022 just exceeded $580 million primarily for residential, commercial, and government, including roads, utilities and infrastructure–a record exceeded only once in FY 1991 during the Tumon Bay hotel building boom at $853 million.
“With DOD forecasting $1 to $2 billion in activity for Guam over the next five years and diversification initiatives in 3D printing, telecommunication, transshipment, agriculture and aquaculture, we expect to see a broadening and strengthening of the job market for Guam in 2023,” Leon Guerrero said.
The June 2022 unemployment rate of 4.8 percent is 14.6 points below the peak rate of 19.4 percent in December 2020, when unemployment rose in the U.S. overall due to the Covid-19 pandemic.