In most industries, Hawaii workers earn less than national average: Study

Published: Apr. 10, 2018 at 4:48 PM HST|Updated: Apr. 10, 2018 at 8:48 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii workers make less than their mainland counterparts in just about every industry, and the average earnings for Hawaii men are nearly $13,000 higher than those for women, according to a new study that further underscores the disparity between what people earn in the islands and what it costs to live here.

The statistics, included in a report that looked at earnings for Hawaii workers from 2012 to 2016, were released on Equal Pay Day — though state officials did not overtly make the connection. The day is meant to symbolize the date at which women have earned the same amount as men did during the previous year.

In many ways, the study from the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism offers little in the way of surprises.

In a state where tourism remains the no. 1 economic driver, it found that the accommodations and food services industry employs the greatest number of people in the islands, followed by retail trade and healthcare.

It also showed that some industries continue to be dominated by men or by women.

Some 90 percent of those employed in the construction sector and 74 percent of those who work in utilities are men. Healthcare and social assistance, meanwhile, were dominated by women (73 percent) along with the educational services sector (68 percent).

And it showed that Hawaii salaries are largely not on par with the mainland — for either gender.

But the report also noted that Millennials are becoming a major force in Hawaii's workforce: Those born between 1981 and 1998 now account for 33 percent of all workers. Generation Xers made up 37 percent of the workforce, and Baby Boomers accounted for 28 percent. (Just 1 percent of Hawaii workers are part of the Greatest Generation, born between 1915 and 1927.)

And it found that the vast majority of Hawaii workers (78 percent) have full-time jobs. In some industries, that percentage was even higher — 96 percent in public administration, 92 percent in finance and insurance and 87 percent in construction.

The industry with the highest average pay in Hawaii was utilities, where the average worker earns $70,756.

Nationally, the industry with the highest pay was the professional, scientific and technical services sector. The average worker earned $80,833, but Hawaii workers in that sector earned about $66,000 on average.

In fact, the report concludes, U.S. average labor earnings were higher than Hawaii wages in most industries.

The exceptions, though, could be found in some of Hawaii biggest industries: Accommodation and Food Services (Hawaii workers earned about $9,600 more), Construction ($7,915 more) and healthcare ($7,312 more).

But those bright spots were offset by the persistent wage gap for women in the islands. The report found that male workers in Hawaii earned $51,566 on average. That's nearly $13,000 more than the average labor earnings for women ($38,645).

And the gap, the study's authors found, could be found across all industries but one: Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, where women earned $42,762 on average while men earned $38,872.

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