HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Experts say Hawaii’s economy is doing better than expected.
The latest report from the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization published Friday estimates thousands more visitors and tens of thousands more jobs in the islands by the end of the year.
“In this forecast, we’re talking about adding another 20,000 to 25,000 jobs in 2021,” said UHERO Executive Director Carl Bonham.
While the report says a full recovery is still several years away, Hawaii’s economy is on the upswing.
The forecast is great news for small businesses still hanging on.
“We’re really excited about any report that says things are going to get better because we need it, we need it today,” said Rock Island Cafe owner Michael Gelfo.
Gelfo says he has depleted all his savings trying to save his small business in Waikiki.
“We’re just sort of hanging on here, treading water, and hopefully this summer we’re going to rock and roll,” Gelfo said.
That’s exactly what University of Hawaii economic experts predict.
UHERO anticipates visitor arrivals will recover half their pandemic losses by July and visitor spending will recover nearly 70% of losses by the end of the year.
“There’s pent up demand and the more vaccines that are distributed, the more that pent up demand will be unleashed. So, by summer, we’re really looking at quite a significant recovery,” Bonham said.
Bonham says the rebound is fueled by federal aid to individuals, government and small businesses like Rock Island Cafe.
Gelfo says the stimulus and relief packages from the federal government has kept him afloat. Round two of the Paycheck Protection Program was his lifeline.
“We’re so grateful to have been able to take advantage of the different federal programs, and also the local state programs that’s been offered to us. That’s what’s kept us here,” he said.
The report points out there’s still an exceptional level of uncertainty about the future.
Economists say the rapid recovery largely depends on the vaccine rollout.