Hawaii seeing record job, construction growth - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Hawaii seeing record job, construction growth

(Image: Hawaii News Now/File) (Image: Hawaii News Now/File)
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Here’s how the state’s economists described Hawaii’s first quarter of 2016: “Great.”

Record visitor arrivals, a booming construction industry and low unemployment are creating a downright rosy picture of Hawaii’s economy.

In a news release, state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism pointed out that Hawaii’s job numbers for the first four months of the year were the highest in the state’s history.

Meanwhile, general excise tax revenue, an indicator of economic activities, increased 4.6 percent in the first quarter of the year.

DBEDT is forecasting that Hawaii’s gross domestic product will continue to see strong growth in 2016 and 2017.

What’s behind the boom?

Construction is playing a major factor.

Chief state economic Eugene Tian said Hawaii saw a record year for construction in 2015. The total value of construction completed over the year: $8.1 billion.

In March 2016, there were 40,200 construction workers in Hawaii, a record high.

Meanwhile, during the first quarter of 2016, 14,400 non-agriculture payroll jobs were added in the economy, representing a 2.3 percent increase.

In fact, all industries gained jobs, except wholesale trade and state government.

The construction industry contributed 46 percent of the total job gain, with an increase of 6,600 jobs. Food services and drinking places added 2,700 jobs to its payroll. Health care and social assistance added 2,500 jobs, and professional and business services added 1,200 jobs.

However, state government lost 700 jobs and wholesale trade lost 200 jobs over the period.

For most residents, the new economic figures are likely tempered by the state's high cost of living. A new survey, for example, found half of Hawaii residents live paycheck-to-paycheck, and 1 in 5 would be financially devastated by a medical crisis.

Tian said it's tough to translate the state's overall economic picture with what's happening at the macro level. The state's hot housing market is good for homeowners, but not so good for those looking to buy a home.

"Everybody feels differently," he said.

But, he added, the growth in the labor market is certainly good news for many Hawaii residents.

And Hawaii is also seeing low inflation. That means residents' buying power is increasing, Tian said, "and households will have more real income."

Sounds ... great.

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