Experts troubled state’s economy too dependent on visitor industry

Strong Mainland economy causing residents to leave

HONOLULU (AP) — Experts are troubled by the Hawaiian economy’s growing dependence on tourism.

Almost all the growth in the state’s economy remains in tourism, meaning that the state’s economy is relying more on the Mainland’s economy, according to a report titled “Hawaii’s Growth Down, but Not Out,” from the University of Hawaii’s Economic Research Organization.

Researchers looked at economic data for the first six months of this year, Hawaii News Now reported Friday.

Growth in other sectors in Hawaii’s economy — including construction, military and government employment — has halted or reversed, economics professor Carl Bonham said.

“What we are seeing is lots of growth in accommodations and food service jobs and not a lot of growth in most of the rest of the economy,” Bonham said.

The tourism sector has continued to grow despite the Kilauea eruption and recent storms.

The problem with having the majority of the economy’s growth in the tourism sector is that if tourism where to slow down significantly, the rest of the economy would slow down with it, Bonham said.

At the same time, the strong Mainland economy is causing more Hawaii residents to leave, Bonham said.

“People who live in Honolulu who maybe aren’t real happy about how expensive it is to live here, they have great opportunities elsewhere,” Bonham said.

Although less population growth means a decline in rents and lower inflation, it also translates into slower job growth, he said.


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