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Products: Hawaii's Economy

Keep up to date with the latest UHERO products.

New Perspectives on Land and Housing Markets in Hawaii

Land leasing is common in Honolulu, with many owners of residential, industrial, and commercial buildings leasing land. This report examines land and housing markets in Honolulu and the mainland United States to understand better why prices and lease rents are so much higher in Honolulu than most other US cities. Three stylized facts stand out:  

  • Census data show that Hawaii home prices were already exceptionally high in 1950.
  • Over the last six decades, inflation-adjusted land and housing prices in Honolulu register small annual real increases.
  • Honolulu’s inflation-adjusted land and housing prices have been highly volatile in the medium term since the 1960s, forcing market participants to bear high levels of risk.

Project Report


CCIM Forecast 2016 Conference Presentation

 Carl Bonham presented UHERO's 2016 Annual Hawaii Forecast at the Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM) Forecast 2016 panel on January 26, 2016.

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Making an Optimal Plan for 100% Renewable Power in Hawaii

The State of Hawaii has adopted the unprecedented goal of building a 100 percent renewable power system by 2045. This report identifies some of the central challenges in achieving this goal and uses the SWITCH power system planning model to identify solutions to these challenges. A 100% renewable power system must balance electricity supply and demand on two main time scales: diurnal (providing enough power each hour of the day) and seasonal (providing enough total energy on each day of the year). The diurnal balance could be achieved by installing large amounts of primarily solar production capacity, then using batteries, demand response, biofuels or hydrogen production to shift power production and/or consumption between day and night. The seasonal balance may be more challenging. Energy demand during days or weeks with low sunlight could be met by building extra solar and wind capacity, using biofuels, or using hydrogen produced during sunny months. Demand response will likely be less expensive than the other options for day-night energy balancing, and customer-sited solar may be competitive with utility-scale solar; consequently electric utilities may need to become energy integrators and market managers, rather than bulk power providers.It is unclear how much biofuel the State could use without compromising other environmental and energy independence objectives; consequently hydrogen energy storage merits serious consideration. SWITCH or similar models can be used to identify optimal long-term plans; however, a new incentive system is needed to encourage the State's utilities to develop and implement such plans, regardless of who will own the generating equipment.

white paper


The Conversation: Carl Bonham on the Annual Hawaii Forecast

UHERO Executive Director Carl Bonham appears on The Conversation to talk about UHERO's Annual Hawaii Forecast: Expansion Will Continue, Despite Global Challenges.

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Annual Hawaii Forecast: Expansion Will Continue, Despite Global Challenges

This year has turned out a bit better than anticipated, and prospects remain good for 2016. Next year will see some easing of visitor growth, but no retreat from the high levels of activity that have built up in recent years. The construction expansion will continue, and tightening labor market conditions will support income gains. Arrayed against this positive outlook are important global challenges, ranging from the surging dollar to Chinese slowing and renewed terrorism threats.

This analysis and near-term forecast is available as a service to the public. For more detailed multi-year forecasts, subscribe to UHERO's Forecast Project.

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Forecasting in a Mixed Up World: Nowcasting Hawaii Tourism

We evaluate the short term forecasting performance of methods that systematically incorporate high frequency information via covariates. Our study provides a thorough introduction of these methods. We highlight the distinguishing features and limitations of each tool and evaluate their forecasting performance in two tourism-specific applications. The first uses monthly indicators to predict quarterly tourist arrivals to Hawaii; the second predicts quarterly labor income in the accommodations and food services sector. Our results indicate that compared to the exclusive use of low frequency aggregates, including timely intra-period data in the forecasting process results in significant gains in predictive accuracy. Anticipating growing popularity of these techniques among empirical analysts, we present practical implementation guidelines to facilitate their adoption.

Revised: Posted August 2, 2016

Published version: Ashley Hirashima, James Jones, Carl S. Bonham, Peter Fuleky, Forecasting in a Mixed Up World: Nowcasting Hawaii Tourism, Annals of Tourism Research, Volume 63, 2017, Pages 191-202, ISSN 0160-7383, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.annals.2017.01.007.

Working Paper


The Conversation: Carl Bonham on the State Forecast Update

UHERO Executive Director Carl Bonham appears on The Conversation to talk about UHERO's State Forecast Update: Except for Weather, Outlook Shines.

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UHERO State Forecast Update: Except for Weather, Outlook Shines

Hawaii’s economic outlook continues to look bright. Tourism is pushing toward new records, and the construction upswing is building in strength. The overall expansion remains solidly on track, delivering better labor market conditions and the prospect of further household income gains. Still, in the midst of this hot and soggy summer we are pondering some ominous clouds forming out on the horizon.

This analysis and near-term forecast is available as a service to the public. For more detailed multi-year forecasts, subscribe to UHERO's Forecast Project.

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KITV: Carl Bonham on Falling Gas Prices

UHERO Executive Director Carl Bonham appears on KITV to talk about the effects of falling gas prices on Hawaii's economy, as well as the latest State Council on Revenues general fund forecast. 

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The Conversation: Carl Bonham on the State Council on Revenues General Fund Forecast

UHERO Executive Director Carl Bonham appears on The Conversation to discuss the State Council on Revenues forecast for the 2015 fiscal year.

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ThinkTech Hawaii: Makena Coffman on Sustainable Hawaii


UHERO Research Fellow Makena Coffman appeared on ThinkTech Hawaii to discuss lifecycle analysis and greenhouse gas emissions.

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Balancing Opportunities and Costs in Hawaii's Increasingly Green Grid

Hawaii’s tourism-dependent economy and oil-fired power plants make it the most oil dependent state in the United States. It also has the nation’s highest electricity prices, often between 3 and 4 times the national average over the last decade. These high prices, the state’s sunny and windy climate that make it amenable to increasingly economical renewable energy, plus a relatively progressive political culture have pushed the state to adopt an ambitious goal of being 100 percent renewable by 2045. Focusing mainly on the state’s largest grid on Oahu, where most people live, we discuss the cost structure of the current electricity system, the potential benefits and challenges of growing the share of renewable energy, and make a few policy suggestions. In particular, we argue that all homes and businesses should be given an opportunity to buy and sell electricity at the marginal cost of generation. Variable pricing could greatly reduce the cost of renewable energy, and perhaps seed development of Hawaii as a technology center focused on batteries and smart machines that can help shift electricity demand to align with the variable supply of solar and wind energy.

Working Paper


UHERO County Forecast: Neighbor Island Tourism Still Has Room to Grow

After a rather soft 2014, the counties are poised for better performance over the next several years. Tourism will see additional healthy gains on the Neighbor Islands for the next two years, before rising occupancy and costs begin to bring down growth rates, something that has already occurred on Oahu. Construction, which has disappointed so far, will become a significant contributor to growth. Gains in employment have brought unemployment rates down substantially, and moderate expansion of jobs and income will continue, helping to solidify the local spending leg of the economic expansion.

A summary of this forecast is available as a service to the public. For more detailed analysis, subscribe to UHERO's Forecast Project.

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Hawaii News Now: Carl Bonham on Sunrise with Howard Dicus

Posted May 22, 2015 | Categories: Media, Hawaii's Economy

UHERO Executive Director Carl Bonham appears on Sunrise to discuss the latest Hawaii Council on Revenues meeting and the revised economic forecast for the 2015 fiscal year.

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Vog: Using Volcanic Eruptions to Estimate the Health Costs of Particulates

The negative consequences of long-term exposure to particulate pollution are well-established but many studies find no effect of short-term exposure on health outcomes. The high correlation of industrial pollutant emissions complicates the estimation of the impact of individual pollutants on health. In this study, we use emissions from Kilauea volcano, which are uncorrelated with other pollution sources, to estimate the impact of pollutants on local emergency room admissions and a precise measure of costs. A one standard deviation increase in particulates leads to a 23-36% increase in expenditures on ER visits for pulmonary outcomes, mostly among the very young. Even in an area where air quality is well within the safety guidelines of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, this estimate is larger than those in the existing literature on the short-term effects of particulates. No strong effects for cardiovascular outcomes are found.

Revised: Posted August 14, 2017

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