Survey: 45% of Hawaii households have seen their incomes decline during the pandemic

Survey: 45% of Hawaii households have seen their incomes decline during the pandemic
In this photo taken Friday, June 5, 2020, a surfer walks on a sparsely populated Waikiki beach in Honolulu. (Source: Audrey McAvoy)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Forty-five percent of Hawaii households have seen their incomes decline during the COVID-19 pandemic and 1 in 4 are past due on some bills, according to a large new survey that underscores the scope of economic pain families in the islands are experiencing.

The survey, conducted by the Bank of Hawaii Foundation, asked residents about the financial toll of the pandemic, their concerns about coronavirus, and their consumer habits as the kamaaina economy reopens.

The poll found that households with children have been more affected by the pandemic. More than half of residents living with at least child said they’d seen their incomes decline.

Also troubling: Many residents said they are struggling to cover essentials.

  • Twenty percent of those surveyed said they had issues with food security in the past three months, and 13% said they’d sought food from a local food drive or food bank.
  • 15% of residents reported struggling with paying their rent or mortgage.
  • And 22% said they had trouble covering car payments, car repairs or utilities.

The survey was conducted from May 14 and 22, and polled more than 1,000 Hawaii residents.

Peter Ho, Bank of Hawaii chairman, president and CEO, said many Hawaii households went into the pandemic struggling to make ends meet because of the high cost of living in the islands.

“The research findings illustrate just how much the pandemic has exacerbated hardships for residents,” Ho said, in a news release. “Many are adding to their existing credit card debt or selling personal items to make ends meet. The hope is that this study will provide detail to shape discussions and future solutions.”

Momi Akimseu, president of the Bank of Hawaii Foundation, said the pandemic is taking an unprecedented emotional and financial toll on Hawaii families. She called the hardship “significant.”

“People are just surviving. They were barely surviving pre-pandemic,” Akimseu said.

“What they’re doing now is they’re having to dip into savings. They have to go into further debt by utilizing credit cards and even selling personal items. They’re really having to dig deep.”

The survey also found that Hawaii residents are concerned about COVID-19 in the community.

Eight in 10 worry they might contract the virus, despite the low number of cases in Hawaii compared to other states, and 71% consider COVID-19 a threat to themselves or others living in their households.

Those fears appear to be significantly impacting consumer habits.

Nearly half of residents said they plan to dine-in less, even though dining areas are now open at restaurants. Some 44% of residents say they’ll go to movies or shows less.

To see the full survey results, click here.

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