ECONOMY & TOURISM
Hawaiʻi’s economy has not been working for some time. Even during America’s economic expansion over the last 11 years, Hawai'i remains in the bottom 5%, ranked 45th among the states. COVID-19 (Covid) has made matters much worse. Hawaiʻi’s dependence on tourism (24% of the economy) makes it economically vulnerable. Covid travel concerns and restrictions has decimated Hawaiʻi’s tourist industry and every other business tied to it. Hawaiʻi’s dependency on tourism and Covid’s impact on the tourist industry have resulted in an economic meltdown.
Over 3,000 business have closed or remain closed, resulting in over 100,000 workers becoming unemployed (24%), the highest rate in the nation. The level of unemployment has completely overwhelmed the State’s unemployment process and system, and subsequently failed Hawaiʻi’s workers. As a result of Hawaiʻi’s poor economy, dependence on tourism, and Covid impacts, Hawaiʻi is now facing its largest economic recession in history, a potential 3.8 billion dollar state deficit by 2025, if things do not turn around.
(1) The government, working with and supported by community leaders, must develop a comprehensive economic recovery plan commensurate with the challenge at hand.
(2) The plan must be founded on the value and philosophy of Aloha Kānaka, taking accountability for our selves, helping others as ‘ohana, and working together.
(3) Covid must be controlled so that we can return to an adequate level of normalcy including the return of the tourism industry.
(4) We must embrace tourism, our primary economic driver, to kickstart the economy. But, we must do this with the understanding that it is imperative to diversify our economy and become less dependent on tourism moving forward.
(5) Government must seek and secure funding to make investments in areas that will support and create jobs. Government must not allow budget cuts to translate into lost jobs in education, health care, and social services; fields where we need to be adding jobs to meet the needs of the people.