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UHERO County Forecast: Counties see synchronized slowing

UHERO State Forecast Update: Recent data confirm weaker growth

The Impact of Public Health Insurance on Medical Utilization in a Vulnerable Population: Evidence from COFA Migrants

UHERO Brief: Four Alternative Models for Regulating an Investor Owned Utility of the Future

Is Leasehold Housing Built on Government Land a Solution to Unaffordable Housing in Honolulu?

UHERO State Forecast Update: Economy slows markedly. Is more in store?

Charting a New Course For Hawai‘i Tourism

The Role of Electricity prices in Structural Transformation: Evidence from the Philippines

Identifying Areas of Cost-effective Watershed Management for Groundwater Recharge Protection on Hawai‘i island

Annual Hawaii Forecast with Asia-Pacific Outlook: Moderation Ahead as Business Cycle Matures


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UHERO County Forecast: Counties see synchronized slowing

Posted May 17, 2019 | Categories: Forecasts

Over the past year, there has been a broad slowing of growth across the four counties. To varying degrees, each has seen a falloff in tourism activity and a slowing of employment growth in a number of sectors. Our near-term outlook for all counties remains muted, reflecting limits to growth in a still-tight labor market, restrained tourism prospects, and a mature construction expansion.

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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UHERO State Forecast Update: Recent data confirm weaker growth

The past few months have brought more evidence of Hawaii slowing. The number of visitor days remains below last year’s peak, with more worrying signs from falling visitor spending. Job growth has largely stalled and income gains have receded. At best this represents a new normal for Hawaii.

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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The Impact of Public Health Insurance on Medical Utilization in a Vulnerable Population: Evidence from COFA Migrants

In March of 2015, the State of Hawaii stopped covering the vast majority of migrants from countries belonging to the Compact of Free Association (COFA) in the state Medicaid program. As a result COFA migrants were required to obtain private insurance in health insurance exchanges established under the Affordable Care Act. Using statewide administrative hospital discharge data, we show that Medicaid-funded hospitalizations and emergency room visits declined in this population by 69% and 42% after the expiration of Medicaid eligibility. Utilization funded by private insurance did increase but not enough to offset the declines in publicly-funded utilization. This resulted in a net decrease in utilization. In addition, we show that uninsured ER visits increased as a consequence of the expiration of Medicaid benefits. Paradoxically, we also find a substantial increase in Medicaid-funded ER visits by infants after the expiration of benefits which is consistent with a substitution of ER visits for ambulatory care for the very young.

Working Paper


UHERO Brief: Four Alternative Models for Regulating an Investor Owned Utility of the Future

How do you coerce a monopoly to act as if it were operating in a ruthlessly competitive industry? This is the billion-dollar question of Public Utilities Commissions (PUCs). It’s a tricky thing to do with a mixed history of success. And it’s getting trickier, especially here in Hawaiʻi, where renewable energy and so-called “distributed resources” (e.g. rooftop solar, residential batteries, smart appliances, electric vehicles) are changing the nature of the electricity system, managed by our own monopoly, Hawaiian Electric Company. Here, UHERO Fellow Michael Roberts summarizes four ideas for how to change the way we regulate Hawaiian Electric Company, and shares some preliminary thoughts about their strengths and weaknesses.

UHERO Brief

 


Is Leasehold Housing Built on Government Land a Solution to Unaffordable Housing in Honolulu?

Housing is expensive on Oahu. For most middle-class Honolulu households, even buying a median-priced condominium ($415,000 in February 2019) is financially out of reach. Some state lawmakers propose to remedy the situation by developing high-density leasehold condominiums on state-owned and city-owned land near rail transit stations on the Honolulu rapid transit system now under construction (State of Hawaii 2019 Legislature, S.B. 1 S.D. 2 and H.B. 820 H.D. 1 S.D. 1). Prices of these condos would be capped at $300,000. In this UHERO Brief, we point out that there are costs as well as benefits to leasehold vis-à-vis fee simple housing and note that the State (in 1967) and the City and County of Honolulu (in 2004) passed legislation designed to dismantle leasehold housing on private lands. We also question how the State of Hawaii will be able to sell leasehold condos for just $300,000 when per unit construction costs are likely to exceed $400,000.

UHERO Brief

 


UHERO State Forecast Update: Economy slows markedly. Is more in store?

Hawaii’s economy ended 2018 on a poorer footing than 2017. Across a number of dimensions, the year saw a flattening out or outright decline in activity. Tourism challenges were not limited to the aftermath of flood and fire, but also reflected weakening in some key markets and a falloff in spending. At home, population growth has been negative for the past two years, weighing on demand. Deceleration is now well established in the Islands, posing significant downside risks to our forecast of continuing modest growth.

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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Charting a New Course For Hawai‘i Tourism

Despite a string of record visitor arrivals now totaling almost ten million annually, Hawai‘i tourism shows signs of trouble. Inflation-adjusted spending per visitor has trended downward. Diminishing economic contribution, eroding resident sentiment, and increasing congestion and stress on sites and attractions provide evidence that the current governance model is inadequate for effectively managing the increasingly complex issues facing Hawai‘i tourism.

UHERO Brief

 


The Role of Electricity prices in Structural Transformation: Evidence from the Philippines

The Philippines provides an extreme example of Rodrik’s observation that late developing countries experience deindustrialization at lower levels of per capita income than more advanced economies. Previous studies point to the role of protectionist policies, financial crises, and currency overvaluation as explanations for the shrinking share of the industry sector. We complement this literature by examining the role of electricity prices in the trajectory of industry share. We make use of data at the country level for 33 countries over the period 1980-2014 and at the Philippine regional level for 16 regions over the period 1990-2014. We find that higher electricity prices tend to amplify deindustrialization, causing industry share to turn downward at a lower peak and a lower per capita income, and to decline more steeply than otherwise. In a two- country comparison, we find that power-intensive manufacturing subsectors have expanded more rapidly in Indonesia, where electricity prices have been low, whereas Philippine manufacturing has shifted toward less power intensive and more labor- intensive subsectors in the face of high electricity prices.

Working Paper


Identifying Areas of Cost-effective Watershed Management for Groundwater Recharge Protection on Hawai‘i island

In collaboration with the County of Hawai‘i Department of Water Supply (DWS), we identified three priority management areas on Hawai‘i Island: Kohala, Kona, and Kaʻū. These critical recharge areas were identified by DWS as important recharge areas for four aquifers where current withdrawals are near current or future sustainable yield limits: Mahukona, Waimea, Keauhou, and Kealakekua. We then developed a statistical model to assess how land cover change would affect evapotranspiration and subsequently groundwater recharge—building off existing evapotranspiration, climate, land cover, and recharge datasets—to identify areas of high potential recharge benefits within the priority areas following forest protection activities. Cost data from nearby watershed management units were used to calculate average management costs for each priority area, and then were combined with the potential recharge benefit map to generate a map of cost-effectiveness.

UHERO Report

 


Annual Hawaii Forecast with Asia-Pacific Outlook: Moderation Ahead as Business Cycle Matures

Hawaii’s economy remains on a favorable path, with record-high visitor numbers, record-low unemployment, and ongoing—if unimpressive—income gains. As expected, the economy’s rate of expansion has slowed as the business cycle has matured, and risks to the external environment have increased. But at present there are no signs of an imminent downturn. Instead, further growth at a restrained pace is the most likely outcome for the next few years at least.

This executive summary is provided as a service to the public. For a complete analysis and detailed multi-year forecasts, subscribe to UHERO’s Forecast Project.

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Revenue Decoupling for Electric Utilities: Impacts on Prices and Welfare

Under traditional (cost-of-service) electric utility regulation, regulated utilities may not recover their fixed costs when their sales are lower than expected. Revenue decoupling (RD) is a mechanism that allows price adjustments so that the regulated utility recovers its required revenue. This paper investigates the welfare and distributional impacts of RD. Theoretically, we find that the excess burden of subsidies for distributed generation is larger with RD than without. Contrary to how RD is specified on dockets in many states, electricity prices appear to demonstrate downward rigidity, while statistically significant upward adjustments on average are observed across utilities that experienced decoupling. We also find empirically that RD has generated negative welfare effects in most states even if we consider the social marginal costs of electricity generation given different energy mix across regional markets.

Working Paper


Mandatory Food Waste Recycling Ordinance for Large Food Establishments in Honolulu, Hawaii

A recent study by two University of Hawaii at Manoa researchers estimates that more than 26% of the available food supply in Hawaii is discarded each year. Food waste occurs at all stages of the food supply chain-- after food is harvested, during packaging, shipping and storage, and finally by consumers. Since most of the food consumed in Hawaii is imported, most of the food waste in Hawaii occurs at the consumer level.

Working Paper


Hawaii Construction Forecast: After Pullback, Construction Prospects Firm

Following two years of decline, the pace of building in Hawaii has stabilized. The value of construction permits is posting healthy gains across all sub-sectors this year, and projects either planned or in the pipeline will maintain construction activity near its current level through the end of the decade.

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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UHERO State Forecast Update: Hawaii's Growth Down, But Not Out

Hawaii’s expansion has slowed along several dimensions. On top of the painful human toll, volcanic activity and flooding have dealt a setback to tourism. The construction sector has continued to drop back from its 2016 peak, and job growth has slowed to a near-stop. Still, the fundamentals look favorable. Global tourism continues to power forward, and there remains a healthy pipeline of construction work. And even with the recent labor market weakness, Hawaii continues to enjoy its lowest unemployment in many years.

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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Scenario planning with linked land-sea models inform where forest conservation actions will promote coral reef resilience

Posted August 20, 2018 | Categories: Bremer, Leah

We developed a linked land-sea modeling framework based on remote sensing and empirical data, which couples sediment export and coral reef models at fine spatial resolution. This spatially-explicit (60 × 60 m) framework simultaneously tracks changes in multiple benthic and fish indicators as a function of land-use and climate change scenarios. We applied this framework in Kubulau District, Fiji, to investigate the effects of logging, agriculture expansion, and restoration on coral reef resilience. Under the deforestation scenario, models projected a 4.5-fold sediment increase (>7,000 t. yr−1) coupled with a significant decrease in benthic habitat quality across 1,940 ha and a reef fish biomass loss of 60.6 t. Under the restoration scenario, models projected a small (<30 t. yr−1) decrease in exported sediments, resulting in a significant increase in benthic habitat quality across 577 ha and a fish biomass gain of 5.7 t. The decrease in benthic habitat quality and loss of fish biomass were greater when combining climate change and deforestation scenarios. We evaluated where land-use change and bleaching scenarios would impact sediment runoff and downstream coral reefs to identify priority areas on land, where conservation or restoration could promote coral reef resilience in the face of climate change.

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