Honolulu Economy

| Suggest an Edit

Honolulu plays a key role in driving Hawaii’s economy, representing more than half of the state’s Gross Domestic Product. The total output of goods and services (gross metropolitan product) in 2016 was $59.6 billion, according to  Forbes business magazine.

 A variety of factors fuel this productivity. Honolulu is the main port of Hawaii, and serves as the governmental, tourism, military, business, shipping and educational hub of the islands.

Honolulu has no local sales tax, but the state’s 4 percent General Excise and Use Tax is slightly higher in Honolulu. In 2007, the Hawaii Legislature and City Council approved a 0.5 percent surcharge to pay for the $10 billion Honolulu Rail Project.

Hawaii’s primary economic driver is tourism, and Honolulu is no different. A total of 8.9 million visitors arrived by air to Oahu in calendar year 2016, up from the previous year, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority. Of these visitors, about 74 percent stay exclusively on Oahu. The average daily census showed that about 88,000 visitors were on Oahu on any given day in 2010.

The federal government, which spent $20 billion in Hawaii in 2010, spent most of its money in Honolulu. The lion’s share of federal money poured into populous Honolulu, which received $17.4 billion last year.

Key Players

People at the core of the city’s government and in the private sector work in different ways to influence Honolulu’s economy. Learn more on the key players page.

Have feedback? Suggestions? Email Us!

Honolulu Economy
Why Does It Cost So Much To Build Stuff In Honolulu? PF Bentley/Civil Beat

Why Does It Cost So Much To Build Stuff In Honolulu?

It may look like gouging to some, but industry insiders say the real culprit is a stretched labor force.
As Caldwell And Djou Sharpen Attacks, Carlisle Goes For Laughs Cory Lum/Civil Beat

As Caldwell And Djou Sharpen Attacks, Carlisle Goes For Laughs

Unlike his opponents, the former mayor of Honolulu doesn't seem inclined to confront the other candidates.

Hawaii On The Hill: Keeping The Islands On Washington DC’s Map Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Hawaii On The Hill: Keeping The Islands On Washington DC’s Map

The third annual event sponsored by Sen. Mazie Hirono and Chamber of Commerce Hawaii shows off island businesses in the nation's capital.
Living Hawaii: Can We Un-corner Markets in Our Over-Priced State? PF Bentley/Civil Beat

Living Hawaii: Can We Un-corner Markets in Our Over-Priced State?

Could economic disruption reach some of Hawaii's most prominent companies and lower our cost of living in the islands?

What Hawaii’s Low Unemployment Rate Doesn’t Say

What Hawaii’s Low Unemployment Rate Doesn’t Say

Multiple job holders, part-time workers struggle to keep afloat given the state's high cost of living.

Why People Can’t Afford to Live in Hawaii

Can we do something about being the most unaffordable place in America?
Hawaii Money Blog — Power, Influence and Impact — Jan. 15-22

Hawaii Money Blog — Power, Influence and Impact — Jan. 15-22

The place to monitor taxing and spending in Hawaii.
Hawaii Money Blog — Power, Influence and Impact — Jan. 9-15

Hawaii Money Blog — Power, Influence and Impact — Jan. 9-15

The place to monitor taxing and spending in Hawaii.
Hawaii Money Blog — Power, Influence and Impact — Jan. 2-8

Hawaii Money Blog — Power, Influence and Impact — Jan. 2-8

The place to monitor taxing and spending in Hawaii.
Hawaii Money Blog — Power, Influence and Impact — Dec. 26-Jan. 1

Hawaii Money Blog — Power, Influence and Impact — Dec. 26-Jan. 1

The place to monitor taxing and spending in Hawaii.

Successes and Missteps of Government in Hawaii

Looking back in history offers insight into decisions that hampered Hawaii’s economic prosperity.
Hawaii Money Blog — Power, Influence and Impact — Dec. 19-Dec. 25

Hawaii Money Blog — Power, Influence and Impact — Dec. 19-Dec. 25

The place to monitor taxing and spending in Hawaii.