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Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Address U.S. Nursing Shortage

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02), a co-chair of the House Nursing Caucus, joined fellow lawmakers in introducing the bipartisan Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act (H.R.959). The bipartisan legislation would reauthorize federal funding for nursing workforce and education programs to help grow and support the nursing workforce in the United States.

“Nurses are the heart of our healthcare system, and one of the fastest growing professions in the United States. As Hawaiʻi and states across the country face serious nursing shortages, it’s critical we support Title VIII nursing programs that help recruit, train and retain our nurses, especially in our rural and underserved communities,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. “This bill will help ensure that Hawaiʻi’s nurses and future nurses get the support they need to continue to serve our communities across the state.”

“In Hawaiʻi, nurses are the largest licensed healthcare profession and work in all healthcare settings, from hospitals to home health to school nursing, and work in all areas of the state. As the healthcare needs of the state grow, including the increased demand for primary care, extended care, long term care, and geriatric nursing, nurses can serve to meet these changing demands. Educational pathways, tuition support and loan repayment programs for nurses and nurse faculty, and recruitment and retention programs are critical to ensuring that our nursing workforce in Hawaiʻi is adequate and nimble to the needs of our changing healthcare environment,” said Laura Reichhardt, Director of the Hawaiʻi State Center for Nursing.

Background: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of Registered Nurses (RNs) is projected to grow 19 percent from 2012 to 2022. At the same time, the Bureau predicts there will be over 1 million job openings for RNs in 2022 due to the increasing demand for nurses.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has consistently prioritized Title VIII nursing workforce programs in annual appropriations bills. Administered through the Health Resources and Services Administration, Title VIII programs have supported the recruitment, retention, and distribution of highly-educated professionals who comprise our nation’s nursing workforce for more than 50 years. Title VIII programs bolster nursing education at all levels, from entry level preparation through graduate study, and provide support for institutions that educate nurses for practice in rural and medically underserved communities. These programs are designed to address specific needs within the nursing workforce and America’s patient population, and are, therefore, a direct investment in the nation’s health.

The legislation is endorsed by the American Nurses Association, the American Association of the Colleges of Nursing, and more than 50 other national nursing organizations.

Live Fire Training at Kona International Airport Next Week

The Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) notifies the public that there will be live fire training at Kona International Airport for the Hawaii District Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighters (ARFF) on Monday, Feb. 13, 2017, Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017, and Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Photo by Travis Thurston

The exercise is an annual requirement by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The ARFF section will be testing their response protocol to a live emergency scenario involving burning fuel. HDOT informs the public that the exercise will produce smoke in the area.

Hawaii’s Economy Continues to Expand

The Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) released its first quarter 2017 Statistical and Economic Report, which shows Hawaii’s economy continues to expand at a slightly reduced rate.

Click to view full report

According to the most recent data released on Feb. 2 from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Hawaii’s economic growth rate during the first three quarters of 2016 was 2.1 percent, higher than the U.S. economic growth rate of 1.4 percent during the same time period.

“Hawaii had a great year in 2016 with 14,000 new payroll jobs created,” said DBEDT Director Luis P. Salaveria.  “Almost every sector saw job increases except state government and wholesale trade.  Our unemployment rate was the fourth lowest in the nation in 2016, and we expect our economic condition to remain stable in 2017.”

DBEDT revised its projection on Hawaii’s economic growth, as measured by the growth of real gross domestic product (GDP), to 1.8 percent for 2017, slightly lower than the 1.9 percent projection made in the previous quarter.

“The downward adjustment in Hawaii’s economic growth for 2017 was mainly due to the new projection on visitor expenditures for 2017,” said Chief State Economist Eugene Tian.  “We expect visitor arrivals will reach more than 9 million in 2017, about the same as we forecasted in the previous quarter.  However, we now expect visitor days will grow by 1.4 percent in 2017, lower than the 2 percent we forecasted in November 2016.  We will see fewer or slower growth from those longer length-of-stay markets such as Oceania, Canada, Europe, and U.S. West.  The slower growth in visitor days will lead to slower growth in visitor expenditures.”

According to DBEDT, passenger count data, total passengers to Hawaii increased 3.8 percent in January 2017, as compared with the same month last year. Passengers on domestic flights increased 2.2 percent and passengers on international flights increased 8.1 percent.

The end of 2016 saw historic high levels of labor force, employment and payroll job count.  Statewide unemployment rate (not seasonally adjusted) fell to 2.6 percent by the end of the year.  By December 2016, unemployment rates of all the counties fell below 3 percent, except Hawaii County where unemployment rate was slightly higher than others, at 3.1 percent.

In 2016, four sectors were the main driving forces for job gains: construction, tourism, health care and professional services.  Construction led the job gain at 4,600; followed by Food Services and Drinking Places at 2,800; Health Care and Social Assistance at 2,500; Accommodations at 1,000; and Professional and Business Services added 900 jobs.

In 2016, initial unemployment claims decreased by 6.4 percent.  However, the decrease occurred mostly in the beginning months of the year. Since October 2016, initial unemployment claims have been higher than the same period in the previous year, and the trend continued into January 2017.

In 2016, total visitor arrivals increased 3 percent and visitor expenditures increased 4.2 percent, both were higher than projected by DBEDT.

At of the end of 2016, value of private building permits was down by 18.2 percent.  Value of commercial and industrial permits decreased the most at 70 percent, while residential permits decreased by 12.3 percent.  Value of additions and alterations decreased by 1.7 percent.

According to the February 2017 Blue Chip Economic Indicators, most of the economies in the world will see steady economic growth in 2017 and 2018, especially the three major Hawaii visitor source countries – U.S., Canada, and Japan.  The U.S. economy will expand 2.3 percent, Canadian economy will grow 1.9 percent, and Japanese economy will increase 1 percent in 2017, where all of the growth rates are higher than those experienced in 2016.

With the economic data currently available, DBEDT expects that the economic growth rate will be 1.8 percent in 2017, and will slightly decrease to 1.6 percent by year 2020.

Non-agriculture payroll job count will grow by 1.2 percent in 2017, the same as projected in the previous quarter. Job growth is projected to be at 1.1 percent for the years after 2017.

DBEDT expects the unemployment rate will increase slightly in 2017 to 3.4 percent and will rise to 3.6 percent in 2020.

Nominal (no inflation adjustment) personal income is projected to grow at around 4.7 to 4.8 percent during the next few years, same as the projection in the previous quarter.  According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Hawaii personal income grew by 4.5 percent during the first three quarters of 2016.  DBEDT projects that real personal income will increase in the neighborhood of 2.5 percent in the next few years.

DBEDT lowered its projection on the consumer inflation rates to a range between 2.3 and 2.5 percent during the 2017-2020 period.  The actual consumer inflation rate in 2016, as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, was 2 percent, lower than the 2.3 percent projected by DBEDT in November 2016.

The DBEDT Quarterly Statistical and Economic Report contains more than 120 tables of the most recent quarterly data on Hawaii’s economy as well as narrative explanations of the trends in these data.

The full report is available at: dbedt.hawaii.gov/economic/qser/.

Big Island Police Renewing Request for Information on Unsolved 1997 Murder

Hawaiʻi Island police are renewing their request for information about an unsolved murder from 1997.

Sean Burgado

On May 21, 1997, the body of 27-year-old Sean Burgado was discovered in his home on Malaʻai Road in the upper Waiākea Uka area. An acquaintance of the victim was contacted by Burgado’s employer, who grew concerned about him after he failed to show up for work several days with no explanation.

Burgado was working at a health care facility at the time of his death and was last seen leaving work at the end of his shift during the evening of May 19, 1997.

An autopsy determined that he died from a gunshot wound. His death was ruled a homicide.

Police ask anyone with information about this case to contact Detective Derek Morimoto at 961-2380 or derek.morimoto@hawaiicounty.gov.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the islandwide Crime Stoppers number at 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.