Hawaii’s economic growth is predicted to slow down, with an exception in one key sector. PBN editor-in-chief A. Kam Napier has more.
According to a report by the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization, Hawaii’s economy is expected to grow just 1 percent this year. Overall job growth will come in below 1 percent, as a plateau in new construction sets in and employers respond to the tight job market.
UHERO executive director Carl Bonham, who co-authored the report, says the biggest surprise for researchers was the degree to which tourism is surging as the rest of the economy slows. Says Bonham, “continued growth in arrivals has been pretty impressive.” In fact, arrivals so far this year are 4 percent ahead of 2016 and Hawaii now receives 20 percent more visitors per year than it did just a decade ago.
The strongest market for those visitors continues to be the US Mainland, while new direct flights from Tokyo to Kona has boosted the number of Japanese arrivals.
Outside of tourism, Bonham says, Hawaii has passed its peak growth. There’s good news for workers, however, in these numbers. Unemployment remains low — it has averaged 2.7 percent this year — which should translate in higher wages as employers compete for employees.