Sunday, November 22, 2009

EIS: 33,000 new jobs by 2014

EIS: 33,000 new jobs by 2014

By Laura Matthews • Pacific Daily News • November 23, 2009

Guam's unemployment rate will drop by more than half in 2014 as the buildup creates thousands of jobs, according to the draft Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed, multibillion-dollar military expansions on the island.

With more people paying income taxes, and as businesses pay more taxes and fees, the draft Environmental Impact Statement estimates that government of Guam will generate $325 million in 2014 revenue alone -- an increase of about 60 percent of its current annual budget.

In the recently published Defense Department document, which contains thousands of pages, Guam's unemployment rate is assumed to fall to 4.0 percent when Guam residents and off-islanders start taking on jobs associated with the military buildup.

The unemployment rate was last recorded in September 2007 and is estimated to be 8.3 percent, according to the document.

Guam's population is expected to soar -- with 79,178 additional people in 2014. That is approximately half of the current population.

The buildup, according to the EIS, may include the relocation of 8,600 Marines and their 9,000 dependents from Okinawa to Guam. An Army ballistic missile defense facility and a facility for recurring visits of an aircraft carrier are included in the proposed expansions.

The quality of life for many residents will improve as the buildup is projected to provide approximately 33,000 jobs for civilian workers at the 2014 peak, according to the draft EIS. An additional 6,150 jobs will be provided on a "more permanent basis" thereafter.

Guam residents are estimated to occupy about 2,000 direct on-site construction jobs for the Marine Corps facilities between 2013 and 2014.

Similarly, excluding direct on-site military construction, residents are expected to capitalize on 2,566 jobs during the 2014 construction boom. The related jobs "include civilian military jobs, direct from purchases jobs and indirect or induced jobs."

An additional 2,211 jobs will be made available by 2020 for Guam residents, as the 15,157 jobs that will be occupied by off-islanders during the boom, will decrease to 3,935 that year, as estimated by the EIS.

The EIS estimates that the increase in buildup economic activities will generate tax revenues for GovGuam worth about $97 million a year after 2014. These revenues will be collected through gross receipts, corporate income and personal income taxes.

Salaries to increase

The average full-time salary -- including those that are indirect jobs -- during both the construction and operational phases, will increase in tandem with the demand for labor.

The EIS states Guam incomes will rise and the average full-time salary for jobs within the construction phase would increase to $33,500, up from the 2007 average of $28,150. This is because there will be more "higher-paying jobs in the architecture and engineering, wholesale trade, and health services industries."

The full-time salary for jobs during the military operational phase would rise to $40,000. It was $28,150 in 2007.

Only about 25 percent of civilian military jobs are expected to be filled by current Guam residents, the document said.

Residents have until Feb. 17, 2010, to provide feedback on the draft EIS for it to be finalized and put into action.

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