Hawaii is a place where being “local” can seem important.

But fewer residents are making the cut.

A smaller proportion of island residents can say they were born in the state than could make that claim 10 years ago, according to a Civil Beat analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The state saw the third biggest decline in the nation.

All four counties and the majority of communities — 93 of 131 towns — saw the percentage of Hawaii-born residents go down over the past 10 years. Local populations in Maalaea and Kapalua on Maui dropped by more than half, though both of those had very small local-born populations to begin with and had seen increases between the 1990 Census and 2000 Census, throwing some doubt on the numbers.

Paia, also on Maui, saw its Hawaii-born population dip from 59 percent of residents in 2000 to 33.1 percent of residents in 2009. Not far away, Hana has remained one of the most local towns in Hawaii.

Geography Island 2009 Percent Rank 2000 Percent Rank Percent Change
Pakala Village Kauai 93.4% 1 94.2% 1 -0.8%
Maunaloa Molokai 91.9% 2 72.7% 28 +26.4%
Hana Maui 89.6% 3 86.5% 3 +3.6%
Waimanalo Beach Oahu 88.4% 4 87.7% 2 +0.9%
Waikane Oahu 87.2% 5 82.1% 8 +6.2%
Wheeler Air Force Base Oahu 9.9% 127 13.0% 126 -24.4%
Kaneohe Station Oahu 9.5% 128 7.8% 129 21.4%
Schofield Barracks Oahu 8.8% 129 7.6% 130 14.8%
Maalaea Maui 6.5% 130 13.9% 125 -52.9%
Hickam Housing Oahu 5.7% 131 8.4% 128 -31.6%

Source: Civil Beat analysis of American Community Survey DataFull Table

The data for all of Hawaii’s small towns was made available in mid-December for the first time in a decade as part of the American Community Survey. Compiled over five years, between 2005 and 2009, the survey replaces the long-form Census questionnaire that had supplied demographic information dating back decades.1 It will be updated annually going forward.

The survey also shows that slightly more than half of Hawaii’s citizens — 54 percent, to be exact — were born in the state. Hawaii’s mark is 33rd of 50 states, placing it just above historically transient California. And despite the fact that some Hawaii families measure their time here not in years but in generations, the state actually has a lower proportion of local-born residents than the United States as a whole.

State Percent born in
state of residence
Rank
Louisiana 79.2% 1
Michigan 76.0% 2
Pennsylvania 75.2% 3
Montana 54.4% 32
Hawaii 54.0% 33
California 52.9% 34
Arizona 36.2% 48
Florida 34.2% 49
Nevada 23.2% 50

Source: Civil Beat analysis of American Community Survey DataFull Table

A decade ago, Hawaii ranked 32nd with its 56.9-percent mark. Hawaii’s 5 percent reduction was the third largest in the country behind only South Carolina and North Carolina. Ten states increased the percentage of local-born residents. Because California was among them, the West Region increased the share of local-born residents.

Region 2009 Percent 2000 Percent Percent Change
United States 59.0% 60.0% -1.6%
Northeast Region 63.6% 65.2% -2.3%
Midwest Region 70.3% 70.9% -0.8%
South Region 56.4% 58.1% -3.0%
West Region 48.6% 47.3% +2.8%

Source: Civil Beat analysis of American Community Survey Data

About the Author