Hawaii population

Hawaii’s population continues to decline

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story stated that the number of residents leaving Hawaii had doubled in 2020, based on a misinterpretation of data from the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii press release, which relied on another source for his numbers. July 1 population figures from the US Census Bureau estimate that Hawaii’s population decreased by about the same amount from July 2018 to July 2019 as from July 2019 to July 2020. These data are preliminary and do not reflect current trends. final migration figures for 2020, which will be released in 2021.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to include more context for the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii.

Hawaii’s population declined again in 2020, with a net population loss of approximately 8,000 from July 2019 to July 2020, according to data recently released by the US Census Bureau.

This is one of the highest rates of per capita population decline in the United States, the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii noted. Hawaii’s overall population is 1.4 million.


The island state’s economy has been hit incredibly hard by the pandemic, exacerbating issues that include a high cost of living and a lack of job opportunities for locals beyond tourism.

When Hawaii went into lockdown in March 2020 and closed to tourism, the unemployment rate at the time was 2.7%, with similar numbers reported throughout 2019. But by April unemployment had risen to 22.3% as the state saw jobs disappear, according to Hawaii. Ministry of Labour.

In September, the last month with data on unemployment, the unemployment rate was 15.1%.

People leaving Hawaii have been a recurring problem for the past decade. From 2013 to 2019, Hawaii saw a net migration of 61,700 people to the mainland. California was a top destination for former Hawaii residents, receiving more than 20% of domestic migrants, the Labor Department reported in 2019.

Residents with higher levels of education, such as a master’s degree or above, were more likely to leave the state, while those with an education less than a high school diploma were the least mobile.

“This is not a new issue for our state,” Keli’i Akina, president and CEO of the conservative think tank Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, said in a statement. “For some time our neighbours, family and friends have been moving to states such as Idaho, Arizona, Nevada, Utah and Texas, which have lower taxes and regulations, and offer residents more freedoms and opportunities.”