Why does Hawaii have 15.1% unemployment while the US mainland has 7.5%?

Big difference between the islands and much of the mainland: We don’t have an economy outside of tourism.

The military is the next big chunk here, but it’s not rushing to fill the gap. Much of the military economy here is skilled labor (technicians, specialists), with very few opportunities for out-of-work restaurant servers and hotel staff.

Our politicians are too much in the pockets of the tourist industry, in my opinion. That’s why we get a smattering of affordable housing with a larding of luxury high rises aimed at rich corporations and non-residents.

I think this would have been a good opportunity to balance things better. Tourism is an addictive drug; for decades it has been easy money, crowding out investment in anything else. Why risk investing in healthcare, green infrastructure, manufacturing, IT or even high-end farming (gourmet coffee or chocolate), when you could build or renovate a Waikiki hotel and start making millions right off the bat?

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