A new report by the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization has grim news for Hawaii’s economy: construction hasn’t picked up as much as economists predicted, and a stalled tourism industry is slowing the state’s economic growth.
The annual economic forecast found that tourism in Hawaii was “essentially flat” in the first half of this year. A report by the Hawaii Tourism Authority issued earlier this week found that total visitor spending grew by 2.5 percent in the first half of 2014 to $7.4 billion, but that there are still fewer tourists coming from the mainland and that overall arrivals have slightly declined.
On top of that, the construction industry hasn’t grown as quickly as economists anticipated. In fact, the number of construction jobs has actually declined slightly this year.
But the UHERO report predicted that the situation will improve, estimating construction jobs will grow by as much as 8 percent in 2015-2016 and will peak in 2018.
More good news: Payroll jobs are supposed to return to pre-recession levels later this year.
Still, economists say Hawaii is vulnerable to swings in the global economy.
The report’s conclusion wasn’t optimistic:
“Tourism can no longer be a growth engine in Hawaii, government dollars will be constrained, and construction can only do so much,” it said. “This is the reality we face for at least the next half-decade. If we are lucky on the national and international front and maintain supportive local policies, relatively healthy conditions should prevail in Hawaii. If not, well….”
State economist Eugene Tian said the UHERO analysis wasn’t surprising. He guessed that the construction industry will improve later this year but said delays in permitting have …