State Economist: Challenges Ahead As Visitor, Construction Sectors Soften

Nov 19, 2019

Total visitor spending declined and the value of private building permits decreased this year through September, signs that the Hawaii economy is ratcheting back.

State Economist Eugene Tian said in a news release Tuesday that while the economy remains healthy, "we face challenges going forward from softening in the visitor and construction industries; the main drivers of our economic growth in the past few years."

Given recent developments in the economy detailed in the state's latest economic forecast, the Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism continues to project a 1.2 percent growth rate for the state this year and 2020.

The decline in visitor spending comes even as tourist arrivals have increased. DBEDT expects arrivals will grow by 5.7 percent this year to 10.5 million visitors and anticipates a slight upturn in spending -- 0.9 percent increase -- by the end of 2019.

In September, the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization (UHERO) warned of further weakening in the state economy this year, with Hawaii growing more vulnerable to global developments.

The ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China has been impacting business and manufacturing, although consumer spending has been keeping the country's economy aloft, Reuters reported Tuesday.