U.S. Census: Neighbor Islands gain population as Oahu slips

The annual Maui Charity Walk draws a crowd of participants in this 2015 photo. U.S. Census Bureau data show Neighbor Islands’ resident population percentages have grown incrementally since 2000 while Oahu’s share has shrunk by 3 percentage points. Maui News file photo

 The Maui News

The Neighbor Islands’ resident population percentages have grown incrementally since 2000 while Oahu’s share, while still dominant, has shrunk by 3 percentage points, U.S. Census Bureau data released last week show.

As of July 1, Maui County’s resident population was 166,348, or 11.7 percent of the state’s overall population of 1,427,538, the bureau reports. Hawaii County’s population was 200,381, or 14 percent, and Kauai’s was 72,159, or 5.1 percent.

Combined, the Neighbor Islands’ resident population is 438,888, or 30.7 percent, compared with the City and County of Honolulu’s population of 988,650, or 69.3 percent of the total.

In 2000, Oahu’s population was 876,156, or 72.3 percent; Maui’s was 128,241, or 10.6 percent; Hawaii County’s was 148,677, or 12.3 percent; and Kauai’s was 58,463, or 4.8 percent.

The statewide growth has been primarily due to more births than deaths and international migration.

From 2010 to 2017, the average number of births annually has been 18,661, and the average number of deaths has been 10,981. For the same period, average annual net international migration has been 7,537 and domestic U.S. migration has been negative 6,014 per year.

Census figures show Maui County’s population has grown every year since at least 2000. Since then, the county’s resident population has grown by 38,107, or 29.7 percent.

Oahu’s population reached a peak in 2015 at 993,716, the data show. It dipped by 955 individuals to 992,761 in 2016 and another 4,111 to 988,650 this year in July. (Since 2001, resident populations have been dated on July 1.)

The Census Bureau explained that the negative growth on Oahu was the result of out-migration of people leaving for the Mainland.

Since 2000, Maui County’s annual growth rate was highest in 2001 at 2.6 percent. Since then, the growth rate has remained positive but has slowed. The last year the county’s growth rate was above 2 percent was in 2008, when it was 2.2 percent.

During the Great Recession, the growth rate fell to 1.3 percent in 2009, 1.1 percent in 2010, 1.2 percent in 2011 and 2012, 1.5 percent in 2013 and 2014, 0.6 percent in 2015 and 2016 and 0.5 percent last year, the lowest percentage growth rate in at least 17 years.

From 1990 to 1995, Maui County’s average annual growth rate was 3 percent (the highest county in the state and double the state average), and, from 1995 to 2000, it was 1.8 percent (still the highest in the state and six times the state’s overall growth rate of 0.3 percent for those five years).

In the period from 2000 to 2005, Hawaii County surpassed Maui County as having the state’s highest average annual growth rate. The Big Island’s rate for the period was 2.4 percent while Maui’s was 2.1 percent. The statewide average annual growth rate was 1.3 percent.

Hawaii County also had the state’s highest average annual growth rate from 2005 to 2010 at 2 percent, followed by Maui County at 1.8 percent, Kauai County at 1.3 percent and the City and County of Honolulu at 0.8 percent. The statewide average was 1.1 percent.

Then, in 2010 to 2015, all of the Neighbor Island counties tied with the same average annual growth rate, 1.2 percent, while Oahu’s rate remained at 0.8 percent. The state’s average growth rate was 0.9 percent.

The Census Bureau released its county population estimates on March 22.


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