Business

Report: Astronomy Impacts State Economy with Over $168 Million

March 23, 2015, 1:54 PM HST
* Updated March 23, 2:57 PM
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The astronomy sector in Hawaii had an economic impact of $168 million statewide for the 2012 calendar year, according to a recent report released by the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization (UHERO).

Astronomy related expenses were $58.4 million in the County of Hawaii alone, followed by $25.8 million, $1.3 million, and $2.6 million in the City and County of Honolulu, Kauai, and Maui counties respectively.   Total astronomy spending in the state was tallied at $88 million, with indirect expenditures, benefits, and spillover totaling $168 million statewide.

The largest impact was found on the Big Island with expenditures of $91 million from the astronomy sector, making up 70 percent of local spending and 800 jobs.  Astronomy activities also added $52 million in earnings, $8 million in state taxes, and created 1,395 jobs statewide.

The report was prepared by Principal Investigators Dr. Kimberly Burnett, Dr. Inna Cintina, and Dr. Christopher Wada, supported by the Mauna Kea Observatories.  A copy of the report can be found online.

The astronomy sector has long been recognized as an emerging high tech industry in Hawaii.  In 2007, astronomy and space science positions accounted for 885 jobs across the state, with an average annual salary of $70,000.  Over 500 sector jobs were added by 2012, and the anticipated $1.4 billion Thirty Meter Telescope is expected to bring another 130 astronomy jobs when completed.

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Foreign countries including Canada, France, Japan, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile, Taiwan, Korea, and soon, China and India, all conduct research on Maunakea as part of the local astronomy sector.

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