VIDEO: Unemployment on Guam Reaches “An Alarming” 13.3% in March; Teen Unemployment 38.6%

195

Guam – The Governor’s office today [Friday] announced that unemployment as of March had reached “an alarming 13.3 percent, an increase of four percentage points since the last report in 2009.”

The Department of Labor, at the direction of the Governor, conducted the first report in two years.

READ Unemployment Survey HERE

At a news conference called by the Governor, Department of Labor officials explained that Guam’s population has grown over the past two years since the last Unemployment Report was conducted.

And they noted that, “interestingly, there are more people who have jobs, yet a lot more people looking for work.”

“The good news is there are more jobs,” Director of Labor Leah Beth Naholowaa said. “The bad news is there are more people looking for work.”

 

READ the release from the Governor’s Office on Guam’s 13.3% Unemployment rate in FULL below:

Employment Is Up; So Is Unemployment; First report in 2 years: Larger population & more high school graduates lead to 13.3% unemployment rate

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 24, 2011

Guam’s population has grown over the past two years since the last Unemployment Report was conducted. Interestingly, there are more people who have jobs, yet a lot more people looking for work.

The Department of Labor, at the direction of the Governor, conducted the first report in two years. Unemployment as of March is at an alarming 13.3 percent, an increase of four percentage points since the last report in 2009.

“The good news is there are more jobs,” Director of Labor Leah Beth Naholowaa said. “The bad news is there are more people looking for work.”

This means there are close to 10,000 (ages 16 and up), who are in the labor force and are looking for work. About 65,000 people are working. Nearly 45,000 people chose not to work, many of whom are teenagers and retirees. Guam’s civilian population 16 years of age and older is nearly 120,000.

The highest unemployment rate is among teenagers (38.6 percent). Immigrant aliens (16.4 percent) and adult women (14.8 percent) make up the next largest totals. There is a 10 percent unemployment rate among adult men. Veterans have the lowest unemployment rate at 7.3 percent.

Unemployment has been increasing for the past five years. As a matter of fact, it has nearly doubled since 2006, when the unemployment rate was 7.4 percent. The following year it was 8.3 percent. The year after, 2009, it was 9.3 percent. That was the last time a report was taken.

SOLUTIONS

Governor Eddie Baza Calvo said there are long-term and short-term solutions underway and forthcoming to increase career opportunities. He said that, based on what he’s seen, the trend in unemployment increases does not come as a surprise at the beginning of his administration.

“As we’ve visited neighborhoods and talked to people, we’ve come across many people who are looking for work,” Governor Calvo said. “Look at the large numbers of young people out of work. These are people who graduated from high school over the past decade, but the job opportunities aren’t all there. This is why job creation and economic development has been our strategic priority since the campaign.”

The Governor said this problem is being resolved on two fronts. “First, we have to make sure that students in classrooms today have career opportunities when they graduate so that they can have a strong future. While we’re working on that long-term strategy, there are thousands of adults right now who are looking for work who need this economy to pick up faster,” the Governor said.

The Governor laid out his long-term solutions:

1. Classrooms-to-Careers Initiative: Preparing students for growth through strong and guided education that is based on projected industry growth. This is actually the major economic master plan the administration is developing with the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors, and partners in the public and private sectors.
2. Military Buildup: Use the buildup of Armed Forces as an anchor for growth. The Classrooms-to-Careers Initiative works off of basic assumptions of growth through the buildup period in order to project sustainable growth after the buildup. This also is an opportunity to increase training in civilian careers directly related to the Defense mission on Guam, such as high technology fields.
3. Growth of GCC Programs and UOG Professional Schools
4. Fostering Industry Growth: medical tourism, transshipment, cottage industries, agriculture, manufacturing, etc.

The Governor also explained the solution to today’s unemployment situation: circulating cash in the economy:

1. Pay out all past-due tax refunds at one time ($280 million from the proposed bond)
2. Spend all available bonds and grants quickly:
1. HOT bond
2. ARRA grants
3. Highway funding
3. Bring money to Guam:
1. Investors
2. Trade missions

Governor’s Special Assistant for Social and Economic Affairs Henry Taitano elaborated on these investors and trade missions. Several prospective investors have been meeting with the Governor at Adelup to express their interest in investing in Guam. Taitano announced plans for the Governor to bring this message to several Asian markets later this year. The Governor will lead trade missions, which will result in increased investment to the island.

“We need cash in this economy to spur business growth and provide businesses the capital to hire more people,” Governor Calvo said.

On the other side of this equation is the training many of the unemployed need in order to enter these fields; or the cross training to move from one field to another. Labor Director Naholowaa explained the programs her agency has, which are helping the unemployed.

“We have job training programs with AHRD, we train people on how to be good job candidates, we have the GuamJob Bank and we’ve had a very successful career fair,” Naholowaa said. “We’ve also proposed to the Governor a ‘Micro-enterprise Program’ to help aspiring entrepreneurs reach their small business goals.”

“We have a wide range of solutions that we are already pursuing,” Governor Calvo said. “This is about making lemonade out of lemons. It’s good to know what the unemployment rate was as we took office. This lets us know the real situation. We are implementing solutions and we should be seeing results by the surveys at the end of the year. Mark my words, the unemployment rate will go down in our administration. We will provide more career opportunities to the people, especially young people.”