Hawai’i one of the fastest growing states in the U.S., Maui & Big Island show most growth

Hawai’i one of the fastest growing states in the U.S., Maui & Big Island show most growth

Hawai'i may not be the most populated, but according to the latest numbers released by the U.S. Census Bureau -- it's one of the fastest growing states in the nation.

There are 1,419,516 million people living in Hawai'i. Local experts say since 2010, the population has grown by at least 1% each year -- that's higher than the national average of 0.8%. According to the census figures, the island state ranks 13th for population growth according to new census figures. Maui County has grown the most from 158,226 people in 2012 to 163,046 residents in 2014 -- an increase of 1.78%. At 1.77%, Hawai'i County has the second-fastest growing population in the state with an increase from 189,191 in 2012 to 194,190 people.

"The population growth reflects Hawai'i's positive attributes. We have a low unemployment rate. We have incomes that are above the national average. We have a great climate. We have warm water. It's a fantastic place to live," said professor Sumner La Croix, the Department of Economics chair at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa.

Quality of life is important, and so is the quantity of a person's bank account. Hawai'i ranks 6th highest in the country in terms of household income, which averages about $70,000.

"Mainly it is because of our culture. We have a strong Asian culture. We rank number one in terms of Asian race among our population, and our household size is second highest with about 3 or 5 average people per family or per household -- that's people putting money together to spend so the income is high," explained Eugene Tian, a state economist and administrator for the Research and Economic Analysis Division of the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

Economic studies show places that are more densely populated tend to have higher incomes.

"When more people come here, the rest of us tend to earn more income. That's the positive thing. The negative thing about more people coming here is it becomes more congested and we see some of the nice environmental amenities that we partly live here for starting to slip away," said La Croix.

Officials say Hawai'i's population growth is mostly from immigration. Experts say on average, 9,000 people move here a year. The majority are from outside the country, with the highest number coming from the Philippines.

According to officials, the attraction isn't just our scenic backdrop -- but the strength of our economy after the recession.

"I think Hawai'i's economy, especially the labor market, we recovered faster. Our labor force actually peaked in 2011 and also this year is creating a new peak, a new record -- so that's the reason that our economy has been growing faster than the U.S.," said Tian.

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