Friday, July 23, 2010

Oahu Statistics: City, State and Federal Employees

The graph below shows City, State and Federal employment counts on Oahu from 1990 to 2010.

City jobs have been above 10,000 employees and over time they grew by almost 30% while at the same time population grew by less than 10%.

Federal jobs were at an all time high from January 1990 to September 1993 and retrenched to below 30,000 due to the combined effects of Hurricane Iniki, the Gulf War and the burst of the economic bubble in Asia. Despite the recent prolonged recession, federal job count has increased to over 30,000 again since 2007.

The number of state jobs fluctuates greatly from month to month. September almost always has the lowest number of employees followed by a sudden spike of a few thousand in October. This pattern clearly depicts the seasonal effect of 9-month public school teachers (state DOE.)

Soon after the 2008 recession the total State employment on Oahu surpassed 60,000 people for the first time but the count receded in 2010. In the 19 years from 1990 to 2009 state employee count on Oahu increased by 10,000 or +20% whereas population grew by less than 10%.

In other words, between 1990 and 2009, the state government on Oahu added an entire Honolulu city government onto itself!

Two more observations. Bloated government comes at a high cost to the taxpayer. According to a recent article in The San Francisco Chronicle, Hawaii tops the list in total state taxes among all states in the union. That's a very pricey distinction.

Oahu state government added a lot more people as soon as Information Technology (IT, that is computer automation of bureaucracies) took hold. It appears that the powers in charge (government, legislature and unions) kept thousands in the dark ages and hired 5,000 new government workers for the new ages.


Hawaii Publius said...

I do *not* think that the referenced San Francisco Chronicle article is correct because according to the Wall Street Journal [1] New York is the most highly taxed state with New York City having a whopping 8.875% sales tax and California with an 8.25% sales tax [2].

Not that I like paying any tax but to me a 4.5% Honolulu sales tax (which is discretionary because it is a consumption tax for say property-rich but cash-poor senior citizens) seems to be a bargain!

So if it is not the sales tax is it the City & County of Honolulu’s non-discretionary property tax & sewer fees that make Hawaii a highly taxed state?

Sorry for not having the URL but one reason why the State’s employment force has grown so much is because of mandates (funded and unfunded) by the federal government. As mayor you will have to deal with these mandates so I would not be so quick to criticize.

[1] “The Tax Capital of the World: States Are Raising Taxes Despite the 'Stimulus'; New York is No. 1.,” Wall Street Journal, April 11, 2009 [ ]


Panos Prevedouros said...

The reader does not appear to account for the difference of a sales tax and a general excise tax. Hawaii's GET is typically equivalent to a 8% to 12% sales tax due to the intermediate taxation plus the taxation of ALL services.