Census Household Pulse Survey 

The Household Pulse Survey is conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau and aims to provide near real-time data on the social and economic effects of COVID-19 on households. Data is released on a weekly basis and the survey will continue through mid-July.

Census Household Pulse Survey COVID-19

COVID-19 - What Next?

Hawaii Island has been hit hard economically by COVID-19, especially problematic because we had yet to recover from the Lava disaster. Sustaining back to back blows by "Black Swan" events is something that I do not take lightly. We are virtually at ground zero as far as our economy!Hawaii Island Unemployment Claims

The best estimate that I can put together is that our economy was approximate $8.5 billion 2 years ago. On the right, you can see the weeks of unemployment claimed from Hawaii Island.

Last year in the post volcanic eruption economic climate, we lost $1 billion of our economy, Plus 4000 jobs. Estimates also showed that tourism comprised approximately $3 billion of that economy or 40%. Covid-19 took that down to virtually zero.

We now have an opportunity to retool our economy, which includes tourism.

I have long Stated agriculture can be an economic driver for our county. We can blend tourism and agriculture to teach our society about agriculture and understanding the importance of good public policy for ag producers. We need to support agriculture while generating tourism dollars. Break down the walls of “silo legislation and policy,” combining energy generation with agriculture, tapping into the big islands renewable portfolio of wind, photovoltaic, hydroelectric, and geothermal. We could generate hydrogen as renewable energy for export and supply power for value-adding to our agriculture industries. The result is economic stimulation and resiliency.

My initiative of “Agriculture, Water, Energy; A Food Nexus” covers this in detail.


The overall economy of the State of Hawaii is growing. But despite this, Hawaii County is stuck with some paradigms:

  • Hawaii County residents earn less than their counterparts on the other Hawaiian Islands.
  • Big Island residents - 25 years and older - earn $6,561 less than the yearly state median income of $37,414.
  • 3.1 percent of Big Island residents had education below ninth grade.
  • 5.9 percent had no high school diploma.
  • 22.7 percent had some college but no degree.
  • 35.6 percent have an associate’s degree or higher.

Education is one of the most important factors that contribute to income disparity in Hawaii. Additionally, between 2010-2014 the poverty rate increased by 18.9 percent – a 61 percent increase from 2009.Through diversifying our economy with more emphasis on agriculture, renewable energy, and responsible development we will change and shift these unfortunate paradigms and can begin to mitigate the rising cost of living for Hawaii Island's families.



Agriculture is an important component of our County economy. 
A few facts:
  • Hawaii County represents 55 percent of the state's landmass containing water systems for irrigation with the potential for even greater irrigation.
  • Thirteen percent of the state's population (190,000 of 1,431,000) live here
  • Almost 43 percent of the agricultural jobs (3,000 of 7,000) in the entire state is on Hawaii Island. 
I believe that with careful long-range visionary planning, Hawaii County can become the state’s breadbasket. We have the land, the water, and the workforce to grow our economy for a stronger future.


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