Why so many people are leaving Hawaii

The following recording from Dec. 23, 2020 features Hawaii radio host Mike Buck interviewing Keli’i Akina, president of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, on The Mike Buck Show on AM 690 and FM 94.3, The Answer.

It’s about 20 minutes, and you can hear the whole thing below. The topic was about why Hawaii’s population has been declining over the past four years and what, if anything, should be done about it. Here’s a snippet:

Keli’i Akina: It’s very easy during a time of crisis to reach for a quick fix, to say that we’ve been hit hard economically because of the COVID lockdown, our economy is devastated and we need to have money. … The reality is, the problem existed long before the COVID crisis. … That’s why I’m a little bit concerned [about] any reach for a quick fix, whether it’s gambling or something else. The same thing is true the way people are looking at the population. Some people look at the data that we release and the analysis and say, “Our state is losing its population because of the COVID crisis.” Well, that’s not the case, because the data we’re looking at shows a trend over the last four years, the consistent trend of every year, Hawaii losing its population. The UH Economic Research Organization tells us that by 2022 we’re going to lose another 20,000 residents.

Mike Buck: My goodness.

Akina: That has nothing to do with the COVID crisis, although it will get worse with the COVID crisis. That has to do with the way we tax our people. That has to do with the way we regulate our businesses. That has to do with the lack of economic vitality that we have in our state. Those are the long-term problems that have to be addressed. And the same thing is true in terms of providing for Native Hawaiians. It’s not going to be a quick fix of any kind whatsoever. It’s got to be dealing with the fundamental economic conditions in our state, and that’s where we need good political leadership.


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