Products: Hawaii's Economy
Keep up to date with the latest UHERO products.
UHERO State Forecast Update: Hawaii on Steady Course for 2015
The Hawaii economy in 2015 will look a lot like last year’s. Tourism will see only marginal gains, but steady labor market improvement will continue, and there will be moderate income growth. While not all damage from the past recession has been repaired, by many measures economic activity in the state is returning to normal.
A summary of this forecast is available as a service to the public. For more detailed analysis, subscribe to UHERO's Forecast Project.
Creating "Paradise of the Pacific": How Tourism Began in Hawaii
This article recounts the early years of one of the most successful tourist destinations in the world, Hawaii, from about 1870 to 1940. Tourism began in Hawaii when faster and more predictable steamships replaced sailing vessels in trans-Pacific travel. Governments (international, national, and local) were influential in shaping the way Hawaii tourism developed, from government mail subsidies to steamship companies, local funding for tourism promotion, and America’s protective legislation on domestic shipping. Hawaii also reaped a windfall from its location at the crossroads of the major trade routes in the Pacific region. The article concludes with policy lessons.
Chamber of Commerce Hawaii: State of the Economy Presentation
The Economic Impact of Astronomy in Hawai‘i
The astronomy sector in Hawaii generates economic activity through its purchases from local businesses, its payment to its employees, and spending by students and visitors. In collaboration with the Institute for Astronomy, a survey was designed to obtain information from astronomy related entities about in-state expenditures. The collected survey data was used to estimate the astronomy sector’s total economic activity in each of Hawaii’s counties for the calendar year 2012. Following a standard Input-Output approach, we define economic impact to be the direct, indirect, and induced economic activities generated by the astronomy sector’s expenditures in the state economy, taking into account inter-county feedback and spillover effects.
Local astronomy related expenditures in calendar year 2012 were $58.43 million, $25.80 million, $1.28 million, and $2.58 million in Hawaii, Honolulu, Kauai, and Maui counties respectively. Total astronomy related spending in the state was $88.09 million. Including indirect and induced benefits and adjusting for inter-county feedback and spillover effects, the astronomy sector had a total impact of $167.86 million statewide. The largest impact was found to be in Hawaii County ($91.48 million), followed by Honolulu County ($68.43 million). Impacts were found to be relatively small in Maui County ($5.34 million) and Kauai County ($2.61 million). In addition to contributing to output, astronomy activities generated $52.26 million in earnings, $8.15 million in state taxes, and 1,394 jobs statewide.
Benefits and Costs of Implementing the IAPMO Green Plumbing and Mechanical Code Supplement in Hawaii
We calculate the benefits and costs of implementing the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) 2012 Green Plumbing and Mechanical Code Supplement (GPMC) for various building types in Hawaii, with particular emphasis on water-use efficiency provisions in the code. Benefits of the GPMC are measured as water savings, where baseline usage is estimated in accordance with the 2012 Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC), which has been recently adopted by the state and will soon be adopted by the counties. We also monetize those benefits at the household level (water bill savings) and at the state level (cost savings to the water supply boards and departments throughout the state). Based on discussions with plumbers, building contractors, developers, architects, mechanical engineers, planners, and other water specialists, as well as an assessment of prices at major home improvement stores and other online retailers, we estimate the costs of GPMC compliance for new structures planned for Hawaii over the next decade. If the GPMC is implemented, the payback period is two years and the net present value assuming a discount rate of zero is $15.13 million. For a discount rate of 5%, the NPV is $11.29 million.
UHERO Brief: An Economic and GHG Analysis of LNG in Hawaii
Hawaii currently meets the majority of its electricity needs through oil-fired generation – causing rates to be nearly four times the national average. In response to rising oil prices and in line with State-led action combating climate change, Hawaii is aggressively pursuing alternative sources of energy for its electric sector. Hawaii’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) states that utilities must meet 40% of electricity sales with renewable sources of energy by the year 2030; however, the remaining 60% can come from fossil fuels. Lower natural gas prices as a result of the “shale gas revolution” is in part why the State and key stakeholders are deliberating importing large amounts of natural gas in liquefied form (liquefied natural gas or LNG) for use in the electric sector.
This study builds upon past Hawaii-based LNG studies and extends the analysis by assessing both the macroeconomic and electricity sector impacts of using natural gas for power generation. We draw upon two recent studies, by Facts Global Energy (2012) and Galway Energy Advisors (2013) for price estimates. In addition to economic outcomes, this study estimates GHG emissions impacts as well as qualitatively discusses other environmental impacts related to the extraction of natural gas.
Read the full report here
The Growing Importance of Tourism in the Global Economy and International Affairs
For tourism-dependent countries and destinations, tourism’s share of GDP can exceed twice the world average. Today, international tourism receipts exceed $1 billion per year in some 90 nations. Worldwide, domestic tourism is typically several times larger. Tourism truly has become a global economic and social force.
- by Carl Bonham and James Mak
Full Published Article: Bonham, Carl, and Mak, James. "The Growing Importance of Tourism in the Global Economy and International Affairs." Georgetown Journal of International Affairs. Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University, 22 July 2014.
The Miracle of Microfinance Revisited: Evidence from Propensity Score Matching
We provide new evidence on the effectiveness of microfinance intervention for poverty alleviation. We apply the Propensity Score Matching (PSM) method to data collected in a recent randomized control trial (RCT) in India by Banerjee et al. (2014). The PSM method allows us to answer an additional set of questions not answered by the original study. First, we explore the characteristics of MFI borrowers relative to two comparison groups: those without any loans and those with other types of loans, predominantly from family and friends and money lenders. Second, we compare the impact on expenditures of MFI borrowers relative to these two comparison groups. We find that microfinance borrowers have higher expenditures in a number of categories, notably durables, house repairs, health, festivals and temptation goods. The differences are stronger relative to those without any loans. Our results suggest that microfinance can make a larger difference for households previously excluded from other credit sources. However, some of the increased expenditures are unlikely to lead to long-term benefits and there is no significant difference in total expenditures. We also present suggestive evidence of negative spillovers, i.e. non-participants reducing some categories of expenditures, while MFI participants “pick up the tab.”
Are Hotel Property Taxes Fully Passed on to Hotel Guests?
Recent research on the excise tax effects of the property tax in small, multi-sector open economies suggests that the property tax may not be fully forward shifted to consumers as previously believed. I adapt this analysis to examine whether local hotel property taxes in Hawaii are fully passed on to hotel guests as lawmakers had intended. We conclude that full forward shifting is unlikely. I argue that an excise/sales tax on hotel occupancy is preferable to the property tax as a tourist tax.
Published Version: Mak, James. "Research Note: Are hotel property taxes fully passed on to hotel guests? Implications from recent research on property tax incidence." Tourism Economics 21.4 (2015): 899-905. Web.
The Impact of Marriage Equality on Hawai′i’s Economy and Government: An Update After the U.S. Supreme Court’s Same-Sex Marriage Decisions
The U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions in the two same-sex marriage cases have substantially increased the short-term and medium-term benefits that could accrue to Hawai‘i if the Hawai‘i State Legislature enacts legislation allowing same-sex marriages to begin in Fall 2013 or early in 2014.
Sumner La Croix on PBS Hawaii Insights: Is Hawaii Losing Its Middle Class?
Is Hawaii losing its middle class? Paradise comes at a price, with rising food and housing costs, a challenged public school system and few professional opportunities in a tourist-driven economy. UHERO's Sumner La Croix joins Malia Mattoch and guests on Insights on PBS Hawaii to discuss how these issues impact the islands' middle class residents.
The Economic Impact of the University of Hawai'i System
The University of Hawai‘i (UH) generates economic activity through its purchases from local businesses, its payment to its employees, and spending by students and visitors. This report estimates UH’s total economic activity in the state of Hawai‘i in fiscal year 2012. Following a standard approach, we define economic impact to be the direct, indirect, and induced economic activities generated by the university’s spending in the state economy.
Hawaii Economists Consider Impact Of Minimum Wage Increase
Two proposed bills in the legislation have the support of Governor Abercrombie, and could bump up Hawaii current minimum wage to $8.75 an hour. HPR's Molly Solomon reports on the potential impacts.
Brief: Should we increase Hawaii's minimum wage?
A higher minimum wage is unlikely to accomplish the stated goal of raising the living standards of the working poor. And given Hawaii’s highly service oriented economy, the negative impact of an increased minimum wage may have a larger impact than in other states.
The Impact of Same-Sex Marriage on Hawai‘i’s Economy and Government
This report provides quantitative and qualitative measures of the impact of same-sex marriage on Hawai`i’s economy and government. We find that marriage equality is likely to lead to substantial increases in visitor arrivals, visitor spending, and state and county general excise tax revenues. We estimate that fewer than 100 spouses will be added as beneficiaries to public and private employer-provided health insurance plans. The size of the gains from marriage equality depends critically on upcoming rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court on the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act.