Slowing Economy for Hawai‘i in 2019?

Mar 1, 2019

Aerial view of downtown Honolulu, Hawaiʻi taken on April 7, 2007.
Credit ErgoSum88 / Creative Commons / Wikimedia Commons

A new report from the University of Hawai‘i’s Economic Research Organization looks at Hawaii’s 2019 economic forecast. The report sees growth, but less of it.

Overall, the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization sees growth ahead in 2019, but less than what we’ve become accustomed to lately. Says UHERO economist Peter Fuleky, “It’s important to remember we are at very high levels. At this stage in the business cycle, we have had a fairly long run of growth and further growth is harder to achieve.”

Job growth for 2018 came in 1 percentage point lower than projected. Unemployment seems to have bottomed out last year at 2.3 percent and is expected to climb slightly to 2.5 percent this year, 2.8 percent in 2020 and 3.2 percent in 2021.

Real personal income is expected to grow by just 1.1 percent this year and level off at 1 percent the following two years.

Visitor arrivals grew last year by 5.9 percent, to a record-setting nearly 10 million visitors. This year’s growth is expect to be more modest, at 1.7 percent. UHERO issues a caveat with these projections: last year’s eruptions of Kilauea and floods on Kauai surely had some effect on visitation numbers that are hard to disentangle when making predictions.

Speaking of people moving in and out of Hawaii, UHERO says our population will continue to decline. We’re expected to end 2019 with 1.4 million residents, about 9,000 fewer than we had in 2016.

As for overall growth of the economy, UHERO expects GFP growth of 1% this year, compared to the 1.2% increase seen in 2018.