Nestled within the vast expanse of the ocean waters, hundreds and hundreds of miles off the Pacific coast, the islands of Hawaii probably don't bring to mind thoughts of unemployment, foreclosures, bankruptcies, or the other recession-related concerns of the day. Hawaii's geographic isolation makes it seem insulated from the difficult realities here on the mainland -“ economic and otherwise.
Indeed, that's what Hawaii's all about, right? It's the land of "Mahalo,- where everyone is on "island time,- wears shorts all year long, and doesn't worry about tomorrow. And, you may be thinking, what do Hawaiians really have to worry about anyway? With such beautiful environs, an endless array of recreational activities, and luxurious accommodations, the tourism business alone should be enough to sustain a bustling and robust economy, right?
Well, that's the problem, actually. Tourism is the bread and butter of Hawaii's economy. But the pressures of the recession have forced people to tighten their belts. Across the board, Americans are cutting back on their consumption of all sorts of goods and services, and luxuries like vacations are some of the first things to get the axe -“ especially trips to expensive, far-off destinations like Hawaii.
After a couple of years of this dwindling tourism, the hard times have now hit paradise. Hawaii has seen a explosion in bankruptcy filings in the last year. Chapter 7 filings were up 54 percent this April over last. Chapter 13 filings were up almost 73 percent. This means the overall increase in filings was almost 58 percent. And it looks like the numbers from May will be even worse: at last check, the filings in May were up more than 60 percent from a year ago. This is the seventh month straight that Hawaii has seen at least 200 bankruptcy filings. In fact, 270 cases were filed in the month of March alone -“ the highest number since October 2005. Included among these cases is the Chapter 11 filing of Hawaii Superferry, Hawaii's first inter-island car and passenger ferry service.
With the number of bankruptcy filings, it's not surprising that Hawaii is experiencing its highest unemployment rate in three decades: right now, it's almost seven percent. And, there's been a spike in foreclosures, which is also predictable. But the actual figure may surprise you: foreclosures are up nearly 217 percent from a year ago this April.
As alarming as these figures may be, this sort of picture -“ dramatic spikes in the unemployment, bankruptcy, and foreclosure rates -“ is a common theme across the country. The unfortunate fact is, Hawaii is simply experiencing the harsh realities of the day and likely will continue to struggle until the economy turns around and Americans are willing and able to open up their wallets again for that big vacation.
Remember, if you're one of the millions of Americans caught up in the current turmoil and struggling to manage your debts, call a bankruptcy attorney today and learn how bankruptcy can help you get back on your feet again. In North Carolina, contact The Law Offices of John T. Orcutt, with convenient office locations in Raleigh, Durham, Fayetteville, and Wilson. Call (toll free) 1-888-234-4181, to set up a free, confidential debt consultation. Visit www.billsbills.com for more information.