The newest University of Hawaiʻi Economic Research Organization (UHERO) report focuses on Hawaiʻi’s four counties, which are enjoying robust economic conditions and prospects are good for continued growth.
Tourism gains, facilitated by expanding airline service and the availability of alternative accommodations, keep surprising to the upside, even as the large visitor volume is straining local infrastructure and communities. Construction activity remains at healthy levels, although generally well off mid–2000s peaks on the Neighbor Islands. Record low unemployment rates will limit job growth in each county but bring welcome income gains.
While an end to the current expansion is not yet in sight, Hawaiʻi’s counties remain vulnerable to adverse developments both at home and beyond our shores.
- The tourism industry is profiting from healthy economic conditions in the U.S. and the Asia-Pacific region.
- Construction on Oʻahu has bounced back from last year’s lull, but industry jobs on the Neighbor Islands remain well below their previous bubble-driven peak.
- With non-farm payrolls surpassing pre-recession levels and unemployment rates at all-time lows, many firms report difficulty finding workers.
- The counties face similar headwinds in a number of areas including the local housing markets, homelessness, non-discretionary expenses and more.
- Hawaiʻi experienced two natural disasters this spring—there have been anecdotal reports that the Kauaʻi floods have caused some visitor slowing beyond the directly-affected areas and bookings for Big Island travel have taken a hit in recent weeks. However, available hard data do not yet show significant adverse impacts.
For the full public summary go to the University of Hawaiʻi Economic Research Organization website and for a detailed analysis, subscribe to UHERO’s Forecast Project.