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Hawaii workers earn less than U.S. average

  • STAR-ADVERTISER FILE

    Buildings in downtown Honolulu. The average Hawaii worker with full-time employment earned $51,347 annually from 2012 to 2016, according to a state report released today.

The state has sized up the local workforce in a new report that shows Hawaii workers earned less on average compared with workers nationwide, largely because the biggest employment sector here is part of the relatively low-paying tourism industry.

The state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism today released the report, which is based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau 2012-2016 American Community Survey.

Overall, the average Hawaii worker with full-time employment earned $51,347 annually during the five-year period. That compared with a U.S. average of $54,840.

Given that tourism is the main economic engine in the state, it isn’t surprising that it dominates employment in Hawaii. DBEDT said this part of the industry defined as “accommodation and food services” employed 13.6 percent of Hawaii’s workforce in the 2012-2016 period, compared with 7.5 percent for the U.S. as a whole.

Hawaii workers in this category earned $30,555 on average, which was $9,630 higher than the U.S. accommodation and food services average of $20,925.

After accommodation and food services, the next two biggest employment sectors in Hawaii were retail, which employed 11.6 percent of the workforce and paid $31,616 on average, and the category of health care and social assistance, which employed 11.4 percent of the workforce and paid $56,608 on average.

The biggest employment sector nationally was health care and social assistance, which employed 13.8 percent of the workforce and paid $49,296 on average. That was followed by retail, which employed 11.5 percent of the U.S. workforce and paid $32,006 on average, and manufacturing, which employed 10.4 percent of the U.S. workforce and paid $56,545 on average.

In Hawaii, the highest paying industry was in the utilities business where average pay was $70,576. On the mainland, the highest pay was in the professional, scientific and technical services sector at $80,833 on average.

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