Report: Hawaiʻi Economy Continues to Grow

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Actual and forecast key economic indicators for Hawai‘i, 2014 to 2019.

The Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism released its fourth quarter “2016 Statistical and Economic Report,” which projects that the state’s economy will continue stable growth in the next few years.

“We are encouraged to see the continued growth in our payroll jobs,” said DBEDT Director Luis P. Salaveria. “During the first three quarters of this year, 14,000 new jobs were added and that’s the highest job gain since the great recession in 2008. Forty percent of the job gains came from the construction industry, which is on track to set a new record year in 2016.”

DBEDT revised its projection on Hawaiʻi’s economic growth, as measured by the growth of real gross domestic product, to 2% for 2016, slightly higher than the projection made in the previous quarter.

“Tourism has been performing better than expected and we have revised our visitor arrival projection to 2.3% and visitor spending projection to 3.9%, both of which are higher than previously projected,” said Chief State Economist Eugene Tian.

“Due to the appreciation of their currency, both Japanese and Canadian visitor daily spending have increased during the last few months. Year-to-date through September, visitor arrivals increased by 2.6% and visitor spending increased by 3.7%. Visitor arrivals is likely to be another record year in 2016.”


Leading the job growth this year are the construction jobs which grew 16.5% during the first nine months of 2016.

Educational services, entertainment, and food services each grew by 4.3% during the same time period.

Job loss mainly happened in wholesale trade and state government.

Hawaiʻi’s unemployment rate during the first nine months of 2016 averaged at 3.3%, 0.5 percentage points lower than the same period in 2015 and ranked Hawaiʻi the fifth lowest in the nation.

Honolulu’s unemployment rate was the lowest among the counties at 3.1%, followed by Maui County at 3.4%, Kauaʻi at 3.6% and Hawaiʻi County at 4.1% during the first nine months of 2016.


With 686,950 people in the civilian labor force and 664,450 people employed during the first nine months of 2016, the numbers show historical high levels for Hawaiʻi.

As of the week of Nov. 5, initial unemployment claims in 2016 decreased by 8.7%.

However, the initial unemployment claims have been flat and similar to the 2015 levels since April this year, rather than the continued declining trend as experienced in the past few years.

DBEDT expects the unemployment rate will end up at 3.3% in 2016 and will rise to 3.6% in 2019.

DBEDT expects that visitor arrivals will reach 8.9 million in 2016, a 2.3% increase from 2015.


Visitor spending is projected to increase by 3.9% to $15.7 billion.

Visitor arrivals growth in the next few years will be diminished to below 2%.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Hawaiʻi personal income grew by 4.5% during the first half of 2016.

The DBEDT Quarterly Statistical and Economic Report contains more than 120 tables of the most recent quarterly data on Hawaii’s economy as well as narrative explanations of the trends in these data.

The full report is available here.

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