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DBEDT NEWS RELEASE: DBEDT releases report on Honolulu consume spending

Posted on Apr 25, 2016 in Latest Department News

HONOLULU – The Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) released a report today that provides data and analysis on spending patterns of Honolulu households during the 2013-2014 period.

The “Honolulu Consumer Spending” report summarizes data obtained through household surveys conducted by DBEDT in 2014 and 2015.  DBEDT’s Research and Economic Analysis Division created the report.

Historically, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) published the consumer expenditure data for Honolulu County, which was compiled from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Consumer Expenditure Survey.  However, the report covering consumer expenditure data for Honolulu County has not been published since 2005 due to federal government budget cuts and this has left a void in Hawaii’s data portfolio.  Consumer spending data for neighbor island counties had never been in existence.

The consumer spending data are useful for formulating tax policies such as tax exemptions on certain food and medical services and tax credits for food and other expenditures for low income households.  The data are valuable for assessing Hawaii’s cost of living, business climate, quality of life, and estimating the income needs for Hawaii households to be self-sufficient.  Consumer spending data are also used by businesses for planning purposes.  New residents to the state could also use this data to estimate their household budgets by spending category.

Some of the findings in the report include the following:

  •    Honolulu households spent an average of $62,357 per year for 2013-2014 survey period, about 75.4 percent of their gross income (before tax).
  •    71.8 percent of expenditures went towards the three basic needs categories of housing, food, and transportation.
  •    Housing was the largest expenditure category, comprising an average of 43.2 percent of total expenditures or $26,982 per year.
  •    Housing was followed by food (14.7 percent or $9,171 per year), transportation (13.9% or $8,714 per year) and personal insurance & retirement savings (8.2 percent or $5,118 per year).
  •    Compared with 2004-2005, Honolulu consumers spent much more on housing in 2013-2014, with the share in housing went up from 31.7 to 43.2 percent.  Spending share in food stayed the same at 14.7 percent.  Spending on transportation decreases from 18.1 to 13.9 percent.
  •    Compared with the U.S. average, Honolulu consumers spent more on housing (43.2 percent for Honolulu, 33.4 percent for U.S.) and on food (14.7 percent for Honolulu, 12.8 percent for U.S.), but spent less on transportation (13.9 percent vs. 17.3 percent).
  •    Households with higher educational attainment had higher annual spending.  The highest group of master’s, professional, and PhD category was at $76,872 and the lowest group of less than high school diploma was at $33,166.
  •    Home owners with mortgages spent an annual average of $37,651 or 46 percent of their total annual expenditures for housing related expenses.  Home renters spent an annual average of $24,424 or 47.3 percent of their total annual expenditures for housing related expenditures; although the amounts are different, the percentages are similar due to the mortgage group having a higher total annual expenditure amount.
  •    Military-households spent significantly more on housing, with an average expenditure of $38,391 or 54.8 percent of their total annual expenditures versus non-military-households with an average expenditure of $26,062 or 41.8 percent of total annual expenditures.
  •    Among all the goods and services purchased by an average Honolulu household, 1.2 percent of them were purchased online, representing about $720 per household per year.

In 2015, DBEDT also conducted surveys of households in neighbor island counties.  Data for neighbor island counties will be released in a few weeks.  This will be the first time neighbor island consumer spending data become available.

The full report is available at:

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Media Contacts:
Christine Hirasa
Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism
Phone: (808) 587-9006
Mobile: (808) 286-9017
Email: [email protected]