Economy

 

Hawaiian Economy

 

The economy of Hawaii can best be described as in transition from agriculture/tourist/governmental based to tourist/low-tech/services based. Hawaii stands on the threshold of opportunity to play an important role as a...

Hawaiian Economy

The economy of Hawaii can best be described as in transition from agriculture/tourist/governmental based to tourist/low-tech/services based.

Hawaii stands on the threshold of opportunity to play an important role as a leader in the economic development of the Pacific rim, but is struggling politically with its past. Perhaps one factor that holds Hawaii back is the lack of large US and international banks which are kept out by legislation.

Many of Hawaii’s current economic woes can be attributed to an over-dependency on Japanese tourism, which has shown little growth recently since the Japanese economy has turned downward.

Agriculture production has steadily declined, as it has in much of the United States. In many cases, production has moved to other developing countries due to labor costs.

economics of hawaiiThe Big Island’s unemployment rate is about 5%. Employment is fairly diversified with the retail trade, government, hotels and construction industries employing about half of the work force. Agriculture, which accounts for a large sector of the economy and almost 15% of the work force, has been declining.

Kauai’s unemployment rate is 4%; the labor force is 28,000. The service industry, including hotels, accounts for 33% of all workers. This is followed by wholesale and retail trade at 23%, government at 12%, and agriculture at 5%.The sugar industry still cultivates many acres on Kauai, but mechanization and foreign competition has severely cut into employment.

Over 75% of Lanai’s 1200 workers are employed by Castle & Cooke, either in their hotels or agricultural operations. Pineapple production, which has long formed the backbone of Lanai’s economy, is being phased out.

Maui’s 1991 unemployment rate was just over 3%. The major industries are tourism, sugar cane, pineapple, cattle, and diversified agriculture, in that order. More land on Maui is used for grazing dairy and beef cattle than for any other purpose.

Molokai has a double-digit unemployment rate that’s triple the state average. Molokai islanders have intensely developed small-scale farming. Some feel the island may have the potential to be Hawaii’s ‘breadbasket’.

In 1991 Oahu had a 3% unemployment rate. Tourism is the largest sector of the economy, accounting for about 30% of Oahu’s jobs. It’s followed by defense and other government employment which together account for another 22% of all jobs. One-fifth of Oahu is still used for agricultural purposes, mostly the production of sugar and pineapples. Production is declining, however, and employment in agriculture accounts for only about 2% of the work force.

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