Slow growth likely in the coming year
Census figures show that Hawaii's population growth has been increasing by the lowest rate since the decade began.
What Gov. Linda Lingle calls her "gut feeling" that Hawaii's economic growth is likely to be modest in the coming year is supported by economists and people counters. The result is a realistic budget proposal reflecting slower growth than in recent years.
The most recent forecast by the state Council on Revenue is a growth of the state's general fund by 5.7 percent in the current fiscal year, dipping to 3.8 percent in growth in fiscal year 2009. Likewise, the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization has projected a smaller gain in tourism next year due in large part to an "anemic" Japanese market.
Census figures released this week show Hawaii's population grew at the lowest rate in seven years in the year ending July 1, rising by only 4,753. The net migration to the mainland totaled 9,673, offset by nearly 10,000 more births than deaths and the arrival of 4,112 immigrants.
The figures show that Nevada regained the title of the fastest-growing state, although its growth, like Hawaii's, was its lowest since the decade began. Las Vegas economist Jeremy Aguero attributes the sluggish growth to the higher cost of housing in southern Nevada.
Hawaii's low unemployment rate and expansion of commercial outlets in Kapolei during the next two years should attract mainland residents, but Oahu's home prices, which appear to have stabilized, might discourage them. State economist Eugene Tian's suggestion that the state boost investment in affordable housing is a logical one. Lingle is proposing a state expenditure of $226 million for housing projects in the next fiscal year.
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