Survey: Almost half of Hawaii residents live paycheck-to-paycheck

Survey: Almost half of Hawaii residents live paycheck-to-paycheck
Published: Mar. 29, 2016 at 8:31 PM HST|Updated: Mar. 29, 2016 at 8:49 PM HST
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A new survey paints a grim picture of how Hawaii households are struggling to make it in the islands.

Some 48 percent of poll respondents said they live paycheck-to-paycheck.

The survey, conducted by QMark Research for the Hawaii Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice, was aimed at highlighting how Hawaii's high cost of living is affecting residents in daily ways.

Nicole Woo, senior policy analyst for Appleseed, said the survey shows that just one unexpected expense could land a family in dire financial straits.

"If they have a car repair or medical emergency, they could go under," she said.

According to the telephone poll, 1 in 5 Hawaii respondents said a medical crisis could be financially devastating. 

The same number said they've worried about how to cover rent.

And almost all of those surveyed -- 95 percent -- said the high cost of housing was a major problem in Hawaii. (Nine in 10 people said low wages were a major concern here in Hawaii.)

In addition to Hawaii's high cost of living and relatively low wages, compared to the rest of the nation, "Hawaii is also the second worst state in the nation in taxing our poor residents," Woo said.

While Woo says there's no quick fix to the problems, Appleseed is looking to get residents relief at the Legislature. On Tuesday, a bill that would provide low-income renters with a tax credit passed the Senate.

"There must be ways with maybe a combination of government tax credits that they could actually make a profit off of affordable housing," Woo said.


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