landscape of Honolulu harbor

The newest University of Hawaiʻi Economic Research Organization (UHERO) report focusing on the outlook for key economies beyond Hawaiʻi’s shores found that issues outside of the state are restraining areas of the local economy.

UHERO reports that Hawaiʻi’s economy has entered a soft patch. Falling visitor spending and a declining population have suppressed demand and halted growth in nonfarm payrolls. However, the construction industry is holding up, and the number of visitor arrivals continues to grow.

Despite the fluctuations in the economy globally, UHERO expects an improvement in the external environment which could also benefit Hawaiʻi’s economy in future years. UHERO reports how the following factors have impacted the local economy.

Highlights

  • Visitor arrivals are heading for another record, set to exceed 10 million this year for the first time. While arrivals will continue to grow at a modest pace, real visitor spending will break even at best next year.
  • The local hotel industry is performing better than the national average. Airline capacity is also rising on both inter-island and mainland routes, following the entry of Southwest Airlines.
  • Despite the decline in payrolls, the unemployment rate remains low by historical standards and labor income growth remains healthy. Relatively stable oil prices and moderately rising shelter costs will keep overall inflation subdued.

Challenges

  • The state’s population has been declining for the past three years, in part because of outward migration.
  • The global economy has been dragged down by the trade war and softness in a number of large countries, resulting in the weakest growth since the global financial crisis.
  • Japan’s economy has taken a hit from global trade and another from the November consumption tax hike. Trade woes are also weighing heavily on Korea and many emerging Asian economies.
  • Risks of a more negative downside have grown, including global weakening, ongoing trade disputes and political uncertainty.

For a full public summary go to the University of Hawaiʻi Economic Research Organization website and for a detailed analysis, subscribe to UHERO’s Forecast Project.

See more from UHERO in UH News.