The number of 16- to 19-year-olds who are unemployed and not in school in Hawaii is down since 2000.

One of every 12 island teenagers is “idle.” That 8.3 percent mark in the 2009 American Community Survey released last month is down from 8.6 percent in the 2000 Census, according to Civil Beat’s analysis of federal data. The national average is 8 percent, down from 8.9 percent a decade ago.

But the decrease is not universal across the state. The rate soared to nearly 75 percent in Paia, and of the 80 Hawaii communities that were home to at least 100 16- to 19-year-olds in both the 2000 and 2009 surveys, 32 have more than 10 percent idle.1 Thirty-one towns across the state — plus the county of Maui — saw the percentage of idle teens rise, not fall, in the last decade.

Geography Percent Idle
(2009 ACS)
Percent Idle
(2000 Census)
Percent Change
United States 8.0% 8.9% -10.2%
State of Hawaii 8.3% 8.6% -4.1%
Hawaii County 6.5% 10.3% -37.1%
Honolulu County 7.8% 7.9% -1.6%
Kauai County 10.5% 10.5% -0.2%
Maui County 13.4% 10.7% +25.3%

Source: Civil Beat Analysis of American Community Survey and U.S. Census data

The town that experienced the biggest increase — one so large it accounted for much of the change on Maui — was Paia, a former plantation village that is now known to many as the windsurfing capital of the world. Paia saw its 16- to 19-year-old population rise from 162 in the 2000 Census to 415 in the American Community Survey.

Nearly every one of those newcomers must be an archetypal hippie surfer, as the percentage of idle teens has skyrocketed from 7.4 percent in 2000 to 74 percent in the new survey, a hike of nearly 900 percent. Civil Beat found earlier that Paia’s Hawaii-born population dipped dramatically in the past decade.

Fourteen communities have had their percentage of idle teens more than double in 10 years.

Geography Percent Idle
(2009 ACS)
Percent Idle
(2000 Census)
Percent Change
Paia 74.0% 7.4% +898.7%
Volcano 51.0% 5.4% +843.1%
Lihue 37.1% 6.6% +464.6%
Honalo 22.0% 5.1% +329.0%
Kahuku 20.7% 5.6% +266.1%
Waimalu 9.3% 2.9% +222.9%
Holualoa 4.0% 1.3% +212.1%
Maunawili 11.0% 3.8% +193.0%
Kaneohe Station 5.9% 2.1% +184.3%
Waialua 25.3% 10.1% +151.0%
Laie 11.5% 5.3% +117.3%
Waihee-Waiehu 9.4% 4.4% +115.9%
Mountain View 17.2% 8.1% +111.6%
Wailea-Makena 17.3% 0.0% N/A

Source: Civil Beat Analysis of American Community Survey and U.S. Census dataFull Table

Hawaii’s mark was in the middle of the pack nationally, ranking 20th of the 50 states.

Geography Percent Idle (2009 ACS) Rank
Nevada 11.2% 1
Louisiana 10.9% 2
West Virginia 10.8% 3
North Carolina 8.5% 19
Hawaii 8.3% 20
Missouri 8.3% 21
Nebraska 5.1% 48
New Hampshire 4.9% 49
Minnesota 4.7% 50

Source: Civil Beat Analysis of American Community Survey and U.S. Census dataFull Table

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