Honolulu Economy

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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.

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Honolulu Economy

August 2016

Monday, August 8

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

July 2016

Tuesday, July 26

As Caldwell And Djou Sharpen Attacks, Carlisle Goes For Laughs

June 2016

Thursday, June 9

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

August 2015

Tuesday, August 18

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

December 2012

Saturday, December 15

What Hawaii’s Low Unemployment Rate Doesn’t Say

June 2012

Friday, June 22

Why People Can’t Afford to Live in Hawaii

January 2012

Saturday, January 14

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

Saturday, January 7

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

December 2011

Saturday, December 31

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

Friday, December 23

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

Successes and Missteps of Government in Hawaii

Friday, December 16

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

Thursday, December 15

Extended Unemployment Checks Could Run Out for 17,600 in Hawaii

Saturday, December 10

Inside Honolulu – Government, Politics and Issues – Dec. 12-Dec. 18

Thursday, December 8

Hawaii Money Blog — Power, Influence and Impact — Dec. 12-Dec. 18

November 2011

Sunday, November 13

Potemkin Village, Hawaiian Style?

Thursday, November 10

Tom Donohue: Hawaii ‘Great Place’ To Do Biz

Thursday, November 3

UH Economists: Hawaii’s Recovery ‘Tenuous, Far From Complete’

October 2011

Thursday, October 13

Benefits of a Hawaii Stock Exchange Unclear

September 2011

Friday, September 2

Carlisle Wants $1B Rainy Day Fund as Legacy

Thursday, September 1

Hawaii Problems Won’t be Fixed by Patent Reform

June 2011

Friday, June 10

The Seriousness of Hawaii’s Financial Situation

March 2011

Thursday, March 3

Honolulu to State: There’s No Rail Money for You

February 2011

Monday, February 21

Globalization and The Great Recession

Thursday, February 3

Fighting For Their Homes

December 2010

Tuesday, December 28

Census Snapshot: Hauula a Town on the Rise

Friday, December 24

Discussion: Hawaii Census

Thursday, December 23

Hawaii Outpaced U.S. In Income Growth, Poverty Decline Since 2000

September 2010

Friday, September 10

Hawaii Council on Revenues Versus the Fed

August 2010

Tuesday, August 17

The Waipahu Food Assistance Office Is Empty — and It’s Not for Lack of Need, Nor Is It A Bad Thing

Thursday, August 5

Abercrombie: Hannemann Left Honolulu in ‘Worst Financial Position of Any City I Can Imagine’

July 2010

Thursday, July 29

Discussion: Hawaii Job Market

Tuesday, July 27

Hannemann: Let’s Bring The Superferry Back

Friday, July 23

The Ticker: Money Stories for Friday, July 23

Thursday, July 22

The Ticker: Money Stories for Thursday, July 22

Wednesday, July 21

The Ticker: Money Stories for Wednesday, July 21

Tuesday, July 20

The Ticker: Money Stories for Tuesday, July 20

Monday, July 19

The Ticker: Money Stories For Monday, July 19

Friday, July 16

The Ticker: Money Stories for Friday, July 16

Thursday, July 15

The Ticker: Money Stories for Thursday, July 15

Wednesday, July 14

The Ticker: Money Stories for Wednesday, July 14

Tuesday, July 13

UPDATE: Hawaii Has the Highest Percentage of Minority-Owned Businesses

Monday, July 12

The Ticker: Money Stories for Monday, July 12

Friday, July 9

The Ticker: Money Stories for Friday, July 9

House Finance Chair Weighs In On Frozen Funds

Thursday, July 8

The Ticker: Money Stories for Thursday, July 8

Wednesday, July 7

The Ticker: Money Stories For Wednesday, July 7

The Ticker: Money Stories From Around the Web for Tuesday, July 6

Thursday, July 1

The Ticker: Money Stories From Around the Web for Thursday, July 1

June 2010

Wednesday, June 30

The Ticker: Money Stories From Around the Web for Wednesday, June 30

Tuesday, June 29

The Ticker: Money Stories From Around the Web for Tuesday, June 29

Monday, June 28

The Ticker: Money Stories From Around the Web for Monday, June 28

Friday, June 25

The Ticker: Money Stories From Around the Web for Friday, June 25

Thursday, June 24

The Ticker: Money Stories From Around the Web for Thursday, June 24

Discussion: Recession and Recovery

Wednesday, June 23

The Ticker: Money Stories From Around the Web for Wednesday, June 23

Tuesday, June 22

Recession? A Day in Oahu’s Hardest Hit Neighborhood

The Ticker: Money Stories From Around the Web for Tuesday, June 22

Monday, June 21

The Ticker: Money Stories From Around the Web for Monday, June 21

Friday, June 18

The Ticker: Money Stories From Around the Web for Friday, June 18

Thursday, June 17

The Ticker: Money Stories From Around the Web for Thursday, June 17

Wednesday, June 16

Hawaii Links for Wednesday, June 16

Monday, June 14

The Ticker: Money Stories From Around the Web for Monday, June 14

Wednesday, June 9

The Ticker: Money Stories From Around the Web for Wednesday, June 9

The Ticker: Money Stories From Around the Web for Tuesday, June 8

Monday, June 7

Malasadas Mean Business

‘We’re Just Getting By’

Discussion: Kapahulu Avenue Economy

Hair Dryers Roaring

‘We Just Don’t Make Money’

‘Not Too Good, Not Too Bad’

‘It’s Getting Better, Better, Better’

Worries About Europe

Neighborhood Indicators: The Economy On Kapahulu

May 2010

Thursday, May 13

UPDATE: Property Taxes And Local Culture

Tuesday, May 11

UPDATE: City Operating expenses keep climbing — despite downturn

Monday, May 3

Discussion: Money

Discussion: Honolulu

Sunday, May 2

Rent or Buy? Not An Easy Question in Honolulu

Six Years After Plan, Homeless Problem Even Worse

April 2010

Thursday, April 29

Taxes and Rail Can Make for a Rocky Relationship

Saturday, April 24

Should I buy or should I rent? And should the feds help?