BY HAWAII REPORTER

Happiest Man Located in Honolulu by NYT

It turns out the “happiest man” in the United States resides in Honolulu, at least according to an item in the New York Times.

The newspaper set about to find the most joyous person in the country using a statistical composite from data compiled by polling organization Gallup. The happiest person, Gallup told the Times, would be someone who is tall, Asian-American, married with children and is observant Jew. He also would be at least 65 years old, own his own business and earn more than $120,000 a year.

The newspaper made a few calls and determined that person was Alvin Wong of Honolulu.

One of the keys to finding Wong was where he lived – in Hawaii.

The Aloha State has been identified by Gallup-Healthways as being the best place for people’s wellbeing in the country, topping all other states in an index of happiness for 2010.

It was the second consecutive year Hawaii has been at the top of the ranking, which is based on a poll conducted nationally. People are asked a variety of questions, including how they view their present situation, their emotion and physical health, access to services and work environment.

Hawaii came out on top in three of the six categories – life evaluation, emotional health and physical health. Overall it scored 71 on the index or higher than it did in 2009. It was also higher than in 2008 when it ran second to Utah as the happiest state in the nation.

The average for all states in 2010 was 66.8.

Gallup said 10 Southern states have a Well-Being Index score that puts them in the lower range wellbeing group. Nevada, which is influenced by the poor wellbeing score in Las Vegas, is the only Western state with a lower range wellbeing score.

It said many Western states, in contrast, shine in wellbeing, with 5 of the top 10 Hawaii, Wyoming, Alaska, Colorado, and Utah located in that region of the country.

Study: Hawaii Could Add Jobs, Business with Less Regulation

A study for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce finds tabs Hawaii’s employment regulations as meriting a “poor” rating, with the policies and regulations inhibiting job growth and business formation.

The business advocacy group had consultants survey states’ labor and employment regulations along with developing an index to show the cost of regulations. It found 15 states merited a good ranking, 20 were fair and 15 were poor.

“States with the heaviest regulatory burdens are sacrificing opportunities to reduce their unemployment rate and generate new business startups,” said the report, which noted Hawaii had a “difficult environment” for new job growth.

It said Hawaii could have employed thousands more people and had more businesses being formed here if the regulations were relaxed.

The Chamber came up with an Employment Regulations Index which included 34 factors against states were measured. Hawaii received poor marks in many areas under this, with the state receiving low scores for having its own employee layoff notice law, minimum wages that can exceed federal levels, and not being a right-to-work state.

States with a good rating had what the Chamber said were strong pro-employment policies, while those with a fair rating had some good policies but fell short in a number of areas.

It said those with a poor rating have policies that inhibit job creation in most categories but could add to job growth by adopting less burdensome policies.

Based on this, the report said Hawaii’s 2009 unemployment rate of 6.8 percent could have been reduced to 6.2 percent if it had a perfect Employment Regulations Index score. That translates into 3,707 more jobs than the state had during the year, according to the report.

It also found the number of new businesses would have grown over what were formed during the year.

Instead of just 2,022 new firms being formed, it said 2,269 would have been created.

The full report can be found at: http://www.uschamber.com/sites/default/files/reports/201103WFI_StateBook.pdf

Other states scoring poorly included California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts and Montana.

Also in the poor category were Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington and Wisconsin.

States with good ratings were mostly in the South or Midwest and included Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Virginia and Utah.

Hawaii Unemployment Sinks to Two-Year Low

Hawaii’s unemployment rate remained at 6.3 percent in January as the state’s jobless rate stayed at a two-year low.

Figures released by the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations show January’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate tied December’s number, which was revised downward to 6.3 percent from the 6.4 percent previously reported.

The rate was the lowest since January 2009, when joblessness was at 6.0 percent.

Hawaii’s rate most likely will be one of the lowest nationally when the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics releases data for all states on Thursday. In December Hawaii’s rate was the seventh-lowest nationally, Hawaii’s unemployment rate compares to the 9.0 percent national figure.

The lower unemployment is welcome news for the state, which is continuing a slow recovery from a recession. However, Hawaii’s underemployment – a measure that includes people with part-time jobs who want full-time work and others who have stopped looking for jobs – remains higher than the national average at 16.9 percent.

The state Labor Department reported Hawaii’s labor force grew by 2,200 to 630,450 during the past year, an indication that some discouraged job hunters may be rejoining the labor force. But the higher numbers looking for a job was also accompanied by more hiring during the past year.

The number of people employed also rose by more than 5,000 from January 2010, when Hawaii’s unemployment rate was 6.9 percent.

The state also reported unemployment numbers for each county, though they are on a not adjusted for seasonality

January County Unemployment, Not Seasonally Adjusted

2011                       201o

Honolulu                             5.4%                      6.0%

Hawaii County                      9.3                          9.9

Kauai                                  8.5                          9.0

Maui County                         7.9                          8.9

Maui Island                           7.9                          8.6

Molokai                                12.0                        15.5

Lanai                                     5.3                          8.7

Source: State Department of Labor and Industrial Relations

Jamie Story

Grassroot Institute President to Leave

Jamie Story, president of the Grassroot Institute, has accepted a job head of the Citizen Leader Alliance in Texas and will leave Hawaii at the end of the month.

As head of the conservative Grassroot Institute Story oversaw the annual publication of the Hawaii Pork Report, which reported on egregious public spending. She also helped launch the Hawaii Legislative Scorecard and HawaiiVotes.org to shed light on the legislative actions.

The Grassroot Institute also has worked to bring conservative speakers to the state, including most recently Rep. Michele Bachmann, and worked on Tea Party rallies. Hawaii Reporter Editor Malia Zimmerman sits on the institute’s board of directors.

The institute has as its mission the promotion of individual liberty, the free market and limited accountable government.

Honolulu ranked 17th Sickest U.S. City

The Daily Beast has ranked Honolulu as the 17th Sickest U.S. City given its positive influenza tests, vaccination coverage, influenza and pneumonia deaths per capita and flu activity.

The website said Honolulu ranks 17th in flu testing and that only 75 percent of Hawaii’s population has been vaccinated. It cited statistics showing the city has 48 flu and pneumonia deaths per 100,000 people.

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