Guam’s unemployment rate down 4.4%
GovGuam jobs increase by 1.6% from FY2021 to FY2022
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
Guam’s labor market is on a steady path to recovery with the unemployment rate falling to 4.4 percent in September 2022, a decrease of 0.4 percent from June 2022, according to government statistics.
According to Guam Department of Labor, the September 2022 preliminary statistics show the total number of jobs on Guam increased by 2,070 in the latest quarter and 2,780 over the prior September.
Private sector employment was up by 1,330 in the latest quarter and 2,630 over the year. Private sector industry employment increases over the year by industry division were greatest in construction which gained 1,690 jobs, hotels added 620 jobs and transportation & public utilities increased by 200 jobs.
In the public sector, federal jobs decreased while government of Guam's employment went up to 12,110 in September 2022 from 11,920 in September 2021, indicating a 1.6 percent increase.
As for uneployment, the new number represents a decline of 3.7 percentage points from September 2021, when the unemployment rate was 8.1 percent.
According to the latest Unemployment Situation report, the total number of persons unemployed in September 2022 was 3,130, a substantial decrease of 2,530 from September 2021.
The September 2022 unemployment rate of 4.4 percent is 15 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.
There remain 51,960 who are not in the labor force, with 50,390 "who did not want a job during survey period."
“Economic recovery is evident in these numbers as more people return to work, more businesses reopen, and new enterprises get their start,” Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero said.
However, she added, that there remained "some lingering effects from the pandemic" that the government needed to address.
"But we are emerging from this crisis with precision and record progress. As we anticipate the steady decline of unemployment, we will soon shift focus from recovering to building on the fruits of our prosperity,” the governor said.
“The improving unemployment rate, a burgeoning construction industry, and a rapidly rebounding tourism market presents us with a golden opportunity to steer our island in a direction that brings exponential growth and success for everyone,” said Lt. Gov. Joshua Tenorio.
People are earning more and working more hours, according to the September 2022 Current Employment Report, indicating a further recovery in the job market.
The average number of private sector weekly hours paid increased from 35.1 in September 2021 to 36.8 in September 2022, while weekly earnings increased by $50.81, from $571.17 to $621.98 year-over-year.
Gary Hiles, the government's chief economist, attributed the improved labor situation to the reopening of Asian tourism.
"Substantial increases in tourist arrivals from Korea and Japan subsequent to their respective governments’ easing travel restrictions have contributed to recent and significant expansion in Guam’s economy," Hiles said
"In addition to the recent economic boost from tourism, continuing increases in construction activity, both civilian- and defense-related, provide further stimulus to economic expansion,” he added.
“The outlook for these expansionary trends continuing is very positive based on a variety of leading indicators including defense appropriations, construction contracts, increased airline capacity and tourist arrival forecasts.”
More improvements were also seen in the September 2022 Current Employment Report in the number of jobs recorded, which increased to 64,540, up by 2,070 from the previous quarter, and 2,780 from the previous year. The construction industry gained the most jobs at 1,690 from the previous year. hotels added 620 jobs, and transportation and public utilities increased by 200 jobs.
In an independent economic report released Dec. 31, Dr. Claret Ruane noted the downward trend in Guam’s unemployment rate, which peaked at 19.4 percent in December 2020, and was expected to continue to decrease.
“As we learned how to manage ourselves and our safety after almost two years of living during the pandemic coupled with the financial assistance many of us received througha multiple of federally funded programs with some addition of local funding, more and more individuals have returned to work or are now seeking employment," Ruane said, reiterating her remarks in her prior year's report.
For comparison, the unemployment rate in June 2019 was 4.6 percent, which is similar to that for June 2022.
However, she noted a difference in the employment situation.
While 66,230 individuals were employed in June 2019, only 62,470 individuals were employed in June 2022, or 5.7 percent below.
"Since June 2019 could be used as a measure of the pre-pandemic level of employment, this means that although our employment situation has been improving since the years of the pandemic, it is still 5.7 percent what it was before the pandemic," said Ruane, an economist at the University of Guam.
The report, which Ruane said was prepared in her capacity as a private citizen, noted that the employment situation was "worse for the private sector than for the public sector comprising of both federal government and GovGuam jobs." By June 2022, private sector employment was still 7.5 percent below (47,200 employees) what it was pre-pandemic (June 2019) (51,020 employees).
By industry, only three industries (agriculture, construction and manufacturing) have returned or exceeded their pre-pandemic (June 2019) employment levels.
"Not surprising, construction employed 53 percent more employees in June 2022 than in June 2019, with construction expected to continue to provide employment in the years to come," Ruane stated in the report.