In a sign of economic improvement beyond Oahu, Young Brothers Ltd. reports its interisland cargo volume rose 1.1% in 2015 as a result of surge in volume in the last quarter of the year.
Interisland cargo volumes fell in the first quarter and rose only fractionally in the second quarter, but was up 1.5% over the summer and 2.7% in the Christmas quarter.
“This relatively strong quarter provided the push that put the year slightly in the positive,” said YB Vice President Roy Catalani. He said auto dealer shipments accounted for much of the surge.
The increase was not felt by every island. Maui County saw declines in volume: Lanai fell off nearly 12% as construction shipments were completed, while Molokai was down 1.7% and Kahului down 0.9%.
Kawaihae, the port on the Big Island’s Kohala Coast, saw cargo increase 9.1%, more than making up for a 0.9% decline in volume in Hilo at a time of port repairs.
Nawiliwili, the main cargo port for Kauai, saw cargo increase 1.8%.
Agriculture cargo volume fell 1.9% for the year and were down 3.6% in the fourth quarter. From the Big Island, farm shipments fell 18.4% from Hilo but rose 18.9% out of Kawaihae. Kahului ag cargo fell 9.5% and there smaller declines from Molokai and Kauai. Young Brothers tabulates only local agriculture shipments, which qualify for price discounts of 30% to 35%.
While more cargo implies more economic activity, there are sometimes changes that don’t signify anything about the broader economy, one way or the other. Food shipments rose slightly in the fourth quarter, for example, but only because one large food distributor began using interisland shipping more. Recyclables cargo volume fell, but only because scrap metal prices declined.