A follow-up business survey in late July revealed no significant signs of economic recovery for the State of Hawaiʻi, according to the University of Hawaiʻi Economic Research Organization (UHERO) in UH Mānoa’s College of Social Sciences.
Results from 464 business owners indicated that most industries continued to eliminate jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including double-digit declines in education services, arts and entertainment, and manufacturing. No industry category saw a meaningful increase from devastating April 2020 job numbers when the pandemic began impacting the economy, with the exception of jobs in information technology and other services.
Neighbor islands heavily rely on tourism, therefore they remain more economically depressed than businesses on Oʻahu. Maui County is the most adversely affected.
Results showed that about 75 percent of businesses made staff cuts and other reductions, and roughly one-third anticipate deeper cuts in the months to come. Depending on when the pandemic is brought under control and when tourism can safely reopen, UHERO said between 6 and 15 percent of businesses may need to close permanently.
The reopening of the local economy seems to have halted the decline in food services, retail and real estate, although there is no sign yet of significant recovery, UHERO said.
UHERO conducted the survey in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii, Kauaʻi Chamber of Commerce, Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce, Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce, Maui Chamber of Commerce, Japanese Chamber of Commerce Honolulu, Hawaiʻi Farm Bureau, Hawaiʻi Restaurant Association and Retail Merchants of Hawaii.
First survey in April 2020
UHERO said these results do not reflect much change from the previous survey of businesses in April. Results then showed the hardest hit industries were accommodations (hotels), down 83 percent in full-time employee reductions, and retail businesses, down 76 percent.