Last week I was at a presentation by Bank of Hawaii, and they got me thinking. The military and Federal Government combined in our state is holding up the entire economy on the Island of Oahu. Military construction has not receded, it continues. They are in the process of building housing on Oahu, 10,000 homes by Actus and an additional 4,500 homes over the next few years as replacements for military personnel. There are 102,000 people with the military, mostly based on the Island of Oahu. The military has 18,000 direct jobs that we know of and spending approximately $1 billion/year.
In addition to this, the Department of Defense spends $6.1 billion per year. There is quite a bit of high-tech investment and spending at the Barking Sands project. The Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyards account for a massive amount of spending on Oahu. The Navy has increased the number of jets that it houses and continues to upgrade its fleet here in Hawaii.
Today I noticed eight additional submarines are being repositioned to bases here in Hawaii over the current 24-month period. Military spending is 23% of our overall economy, while tourism, which we all think of as the leader, is just a little bit higher at 30%.
In addition to military spending, Hawaii has one of the highest spending per capita ratios of any state. This is courtesy of our senior senators, the committees, and the chair in congress. In 2007, the federal government spent a total of $14 billion in Hawaii. The State of Hawaii is getting the equivalent of $235 per person in federal earmarks as a result of Congress’ recent special hearings. These projects benefit primarily large government spending projects on Oahu. They include transportation, the University of Hawaii, and the telescopes atop Mauna Kea.
All of this spending is adding up and is the reason Oahu is weathering this economic storm better than most. This is why spending and economic activity on Oahu has stayed relatively similar to that of the previous years, while spending in the visitor economy overall is down in the range of 15%-20%.