KAHULUI, Maui — After an 11-year economic expansion, Maui will see “little or no growth” in the near future as the financial market meltdown and high fuel costs continue to take a toll, according to First Hawaiian Bank economic adviser Leroy Laney.

The county’s projected unemployment rate of 4.5 percent in 2008 is expected to top the state figure, while the tourism and housing sectors will continue to weaken, Laney said yesterday while on Maui for the bank’s 34th annual Maui County Economic Outlook Forum at the Maui Beach Hotel.

Instead of painting a picture of gloom and doom, Laney characterized the economic upheaval as a “cooling off” period required to allow infrastructure and slowly rising income to catch up.

“Simply put, the economy occasionally needs to catch its breath,” he said.