HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It seems like everybody on Oahu knows at least one friend or relative who has moved to the mainland because of the high cost of living.
Now, newly-released Census estimates underscore just how widespread the exodus is.
The figures show that from 2010 to last year, nearly 62,000 more people moved to the mainland from Oahu than came in.
Put another way, Oahu lost nearly 7,500 more people annually to the mainland than it gained over the eight-year period.
Some years, the losses were particularly stunning.
From 2016 to 2017, the net migration loss on Oahu totaled more than 14,000. And some 13,000 more people left for the mainland than came in from 2017 to last year.
No other county in the islands comes close to those figures.
In fact, Maui was the only other county with a net migration loss. There, 152 more people left for the mainland from 2010 to 2018 than moved into the county.
Oahu’s high cost of living has grabbed headlines for decades.
But the issue appears to have grown more acute in recent years, with everything from a hot housing market to salaries not keeping pace with rising prices.
Economists also note that people might be leaving for related issues: For better jobs or salaries, greater opportunities or in order to purchase a home.
The migration to the mainland meant ― combined with births and an overall net international migration gain ― the state population grew at an annual rate of just .5 percent from 2010 to 2018.
And the overall population has actually declined in recent years.
The Census figures put Hawaii’s population at 1.420,491 ― less than the population in 2015. On Oahu, meanwhile, the population is 980,080. The population hasn’t been that small since 2012.
Oahu’s population decline has meant that Honolulu County now makes up 69% of the state’s population. That’s down from 72.3% in 2000.
The Big Island now makes up 14.1% of the state population, while Maui County has 11.8% and Kauai County has about 5%.