UHERO: Slower Growth Across the Islands

May 17, 2019

Credit uhero.hawaii.edu

Economists at the University of Hawaii have done statewide economic forecasts for years. But now they’re extending that research to the county level.

The University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization has been getting more granular with its economic forecasts for Hawaii. Its latest report looks at prospects for each county.

Each one will see growth, but slower than we’ve seen over the past 10 years of expansion. Oahu may be looking at one the biggest shifts. Last year, visitor arrivals grew nearly 9% over 2017. This year, visitor arrivals are expected to grow half as fast, by 4.3%. Next year, that’s expected to decline to just under 1% of growth.

Oahu is the only island to have lost population over the past couple of years. That’s expected to continue, with Oahu projected to lose another 3,000 people this year. 

On the Big Island, where Kilauea’s eruption had visitors staying away, tourism is expected to recover. Last year’s anemic growth of three-tenths of one-percent is expected to rebound to nearly four and a half percent. Maui’s visitor growth rate is projected to dip to 1.7% while Kauai’s visitor count growth will be just under 1%.

According to UHERO, there are upsides to this flattening. It will give the counties time to catch their breaths from record-breaking visitor counts, and give employers a break as it eases a tight labor market.