‘Fasten your seatbelts’: Hawaii economists warn of rocky road ahead

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Published: Mar. 1, 2019 at 3:59 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - There could be trouble ahead for Hawaii’s economy.

That was the key takeaway from the latest state forecast ― entitled “Economy slow markedly. Is more in store?” ― from the Economic Research Organization of the University of Hawaii.

The economists note that Hawaii’s economy ended 2018 on “poorer footing" compared to the year before. And that challenges in several key industries, including tourism and retail, are a worrying sign.

“Fasten your seatbelts, please,” the report’s authors write.

“Our more pessimistic outlook reflects both a clearer view of slowing in Hawaii as additional data has come in, as well as emerging negative indicators of conditions in the US and abroad. ... The configuration of risks is now tilted decidedly downward.”

Among the specific concerns the report points to:

  • Economic troubles globally, including a slowdown in China and uncertainty in Europe;
  • Flat arrivals statistics and declines in visitor spending;
  • And a cooling labor market, thanks in part to recent declines in the state’s population.

One bright spot in the economy: Construction.

The report said that construction employment stabilized in 2018, after edging downward the year before.

“Given the healthy stream of residential, commercial, and resort projects in the pipeline, we expect building industry job counts and income to edge up slightly over the next two years,” the report’s authors concluded.

Read a public summary of the report by clicking here.

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