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Bill Advances to Increase Minimum Wage to $15 Per Hour

The Hawai‘i Senate announces that today, Feb. 6, 2018, measures intended to boost the state’s economy by increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour over the next two years and to create a family leave plan to help family caregivers were advanced by the Senate Committee on Labor.

Senate Bill 2291 would increase the minimum wage to $12.25 per hour in 2019 and $15 per hour in 2020.

Click to submit testimony

The measure would eliminate the lower minimum wage for tipped workers, and provide automatic cost-of-living increases. Testimony in favor of the bill support Hawai‘i workers by providing an adequate hourly wage to reflect the state’s high cost of living.

Senate Bill 2990 would establish a paid family leave program and lay the groundwork to implement a framework of laws and policies so that all employees can access leave benefits during times when they need to provide care for a family member. It would also establish a paid family leave implementation board. In Hawai‘i, 247,000 people serve as family caregivers. Of those who would benefit from paid family leave, it is estimated nearly one-third would take those leave benefits to care for an ill spouse or elderly parent. Most family caregivers are unable to afford to take time off from work.

“Both of these measures address critical issues for working families,” said Chair of the Senate Committee on Labor Sen. Tokuda. “With so many families struggling just to survive in our islands, putting money into the hands of Hawai‘i’s working people and reducing income inequality will have positive economic benefits throughout our communities. Having the assurance of paid family leave benefits Hawai‘i’s economy by giving caregivers stability during times when they need it most, and ensures they can return back to the workforce when ready.”

SB2291 and SB2990 now go before the Senate Committee on Ways and Means for further consideration.

Rent Survey to be Conducted on Hawai‘i Island

Families on Hawai‘i Island and O‘ahu will soon be surveyed by SMS Research & Marketing Services on what they are paying for rent. The Hawai‘i Housing Finance and Development Corporation (HHFDC), Hawai‘i Public Housing Authority and Counties of Honolulu and Hawai‘i have commissioned the survey.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) annually publishes Fair Market Rents based on data from the U.S. Census. HUD’s Fair Market Rents are used to set pricing for many federally subsidized programs, including Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers, that help low-income families obtain and keep safe, decent and sanitary housing.

Proposed HUD 2018 Fair Market Rents will decrease from 2017.

“Voucher holders already have a difficult time finding safe, decent and affordable rentals within the range of HUD Fair Market Rents,” said Hawai‘i Island House Administrator Neil Gyotoku. “Decreasing Fair Market Rents will worsen the situation especially in high rent areas such as West Hawai‘i.”

The information collected will be used to support the state’s request to HUD to re-evaluate the 2018 Fair Market Rents for O‘ahu and Hawai‘i Island.

“HUD’s Fair Market Rents are also used to determine Difficult to Develop Areas (DDAs) under the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program,” said Craig K. Hirai, executive director of HHFDC. Rental housing projects located in a DDA can receive additional tax credits, and therefore, increase financial feasibility.”

The rent surveys will be mailed to selected households and be short. Non-renters need only answer one question, but the agency is asking everyone to answer the survey for accurate results. The data will be not used for any other purpose and kept strictly confidential. Only county-wide average rents will be reported to HUD and individual responses will be destroyed at the end of the project.

DBEDT Releases Data on Big Island and Kauai Consumer Spending

The state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) released two reports today that provides data and analysis on spending patterns of Big Island and Kauai households in 2014.

Click to view report

Click to view report

The reports summarizes data obtained through household surveys conducted by DBEDT in 2015 and covers spending in 2014. 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.  The BLS survey only included Oahu residents and excluded neighbor island residents.  Data on consumer spending patterns for neighbor islands did not exist before DBEDT compiled the data through household surveys.

Some of the findings in the Hawaii County report include the following:

  • An average household in Hawaii County spent an average of $51,700 in 2014. Of the 14 major spending categories, 71.2 percent of the expenditures went towards the three basic needs categories of housing, transportation, and food.H
  • Housing was the largest expenditure category, comprising an average of 40.5 percent of total expenditures or $20,921 in 2014. Housing was followed by transportation (16.3 percent or $8,405), food (14.4 percent or $7,420), and personal insurance & retirement savings (7.8 percent or $4,046).
  • In 2014, a typical Hawaii County household spent about $10,000 less than its Honolulu counterpart, who spent $62,280 on average. Compared with Honolulu County, Hawaii County consumers spent slightly less on housing and more on transportation and food, though the total shares allocated to these three basic needs categories are rather similar, both between 71 percent and 72 percent of total expenditures.
  • Hawaii County household’s annual expenditures were slightly lower than the U.S. average in 2014, with Hawaii County at $51,700 and the U.S. at $53,495.  Housing comprised a larger portion in Hawaii County consumers’ spending (40.5 percent for Hawaii County and 33.3 percent for U.S.). Hawaii County consumers spent relatively more on food (14.4 percent for Hawaii County and 12.6 percent for U.S.) and less on transportation (16.3 percent for Hawaii County and 17 percent for U.S.).
  • Lower income households spent relatively larger shares on the three basic needs categories, 78.3 percent for the lowest-income households compared with 65.5 percent for the highest-income households. Furthermore, higher income households spent both a greater amount and share of their expenditures on entertainment and insurance and retirement savings.
  • Homeowners with mortgages spent $65,911 in 2014, which was more than $20,000 higher than the annual expenditures of home renters and home owners without mortgages. Both homeowners with mortgages and renters spent a large share on housing, 42.2 percent and 44.8 percent, respectively, resulting in comparably smaller shares on most other spending categories, relative to home owners without mortgages.

Some of the findings in the Kauai County report include the following:

  • A typical household in Kauai County spent an average of $64,651 in 2014. Of the 14 major spending categories, nearly 73.2 percent of the expenditures went towards the three basic needs categories of housing, transportation, and food.
  • Housing was the largest expenditure category, comprising an average of 41.5 percent of total expenditures or $26,819 in 2014. Housing was followed by transportation (16.8 percent or $10,836), food (14.9 percent or $9,638), and personal insurance & retirement savings (6.8 percent or $4,398).
  • In 2014, a typical Kauai household spent more than $2,000 more than its Honolulu counterpart, who spent $62,280 on average. Compared with Honolulu County, Kauai consumers spent slightly less on housing and more on transportation and food, though the total shares allocated to these three basic needs categories are rather close, both at around 73 percent of total expenditures.  Kauai household’s annual expenditures were 21 percent higher than the U.S. average in 2014, with Kauai at $64,651 and the U.S. at $53,495.   Housing comprised a larger portion in Kauai consumers’ spending (41.5 percent for Kauai and 33.3 percent for U.S.). Kauai consumers spent relatively more on food (14.9 percent for Kauai and 12.6 percent for U.S.) and slightly less on transportation (16.8 percent for Kauai and 17 percent for U.S.).
  • Lower income households spent relatively larger shares on the three basic needs categories, 80 percent for the lowest-income households compared with 69.8 percent for the highest-income households. Furthermore, higher income households spent both a greater amount and share of their expenditures on transportation, insurance and retirement savings, and entertainment.
  • Homeowners with mortgages and renters had comparable shares for housing related expenses (44.5 percent versus 44 percent). However, homeowners’ annual expenditure amount was much higher than renters, with $87,460 for home owners with mortgages versus $54,139 for home renters.

The Hawaii County results are based on 554 completed surveys from the Big Island, and the Kauai County results are based on 337 completed surveys from the islands of Kauai and Lanai.

The full reports are available at:

files.hawaii.gov/dbedt/economic/reports/CE_Big_Island_Survey_Final.pdf

files.hawaii.gov/dbedt/economic/reports/CE_Kauai_Survey_Final.pdf