Science and technology industry expected to outpace economy
Hawaii's $3 billion a year science and technology industry is likely to grow 50 percent faster than the rest of the state's economy in the next decade, data released yesterday shows.
The private technology industry's annual growth rate of 3.3 percent between 2002 and 2007 outpaced the state's overall economic growth of 2.5 percent a year in the same period, the Hawaii Science and Technology Council announced at a meeting attended by U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye.
That means the industry's growth here is surpassing the mainland, which had 1.8 percent annual growth between 2002 and 2007, according to the report, which was a two-year collaboration between the statewide private-sector organization, the state Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism, and the University of Hawaii, among others.
The full report will be released Oct. 2.
"Is science and technology really a go or isn't it a go?" said Michael Hamnett, research chair of the HISciTech board. "It has been very frustrating for people involved because we didn't have any data."
Hawaii's science and technology companies and government entities created 31,106 jobs, or 3.6 percent of the state's total employment, between 2002 and 2007. Of those jobs, 23,985, or 77 percent, are in the private sector. The state has 1,964 science and technology companies, or about 5 percent of all firms.
Inouye defended his use of federal earmarks to fund science and technology projects in Hawaii, including the Maui Space Surveillance System satellite tracking facility on the summit of Haleakala.
"About 16 years ago, I was concerned by certain numbers that I began reading about the number of young men and women with graduate degrees leaving Hawaii seeking jobs abroad, most of them in the United States, who weren't coming home, and so I decided, well, let's see what can be done," he said.
The average annual salary across all tech sectors in Hawaii is $69,000, 50 percent more than the average worker in the state, but just 77 percent of the mainland salary for the same industry, the report stated. The largest growth areas were energy, defense and aerospace, and agricultural biotechnology.
"I wish I had come back home sooner than I did," said Hawaii-raised Hank Wuh, who founded medical research company Cellular Bioengineering Inc. in Honolulu after attending college on the mainland and working in Silicon Valley. "Thirty percent of our work force are kamaaina that have come home to work as a result."