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Hawaiʻi population decline still tilts toward Las Vegas

Vegas Casinos Landlord
John Locher/AP
FILE - A plane takes off from Harry Reid International Airport near casinos along the Las Vegas Strip, on Sept. 29, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

Hawaiʻi has been one of several states with a declining population in recent years. When it comes to people leaving the islands, Honolulu has been hardest hit, with a recent net loss of tax filers.

The national newsroom of PBN’s parent company, American City Business Journals, has pulled data from the IRS and the U.S. Census Bureau to analyze Americans on the move from 2019 to 2020. Just under 9 million Americans moved from one county to another that year.

Overall, the findings detail a clear shift of people out of such states as New York, Louisiana, California, Illinois and Massachusetts and into Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Arizona and Georgia.

Hawaiʻi was a net population loser, but not evenly so. The neighbor islands gained nearly 1,000 more people than they lost. But Honolulu lost 4,000 more people than it gained from other states.

About 24,000 moved out of Oʻahu that year — and only 20,000 moved in. The 4,000 took with them a combined income of $162 million.

Hawaiʻi’s out-migration doesn’t quite match the national pattern of people and capital fleeing so-called blue states for red states. The top cities for people who left Hawaiʻi from 2019 to 2020 include Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles, as well El Paso and Phoenix.

But the number one recipient of fleeing kamaʻāina was our traditional ninth island, Las Vegas — gaining just over 1,500 Hawaiʻi people in 2020.

A. Kam Napier is the editor-in-chief of Pacific Business News.
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