Construction industry to lead Hawaii’s economic expansion

Local News

Don’t expect to see those construction cranes and bulldozers going away anytime soon.

The state says the construction industry will again lead Hawaii’s economy with the fastest growth rate.

On Wednesday, the state released its employment forecast for the short-term. Officials predict the construction industry will increase 12.1 percent, creating 3,880 jobs between the first quarters of 2015 and 2017.

More and more students are learning how to build a home at Honolulu Community College.

“We’ve been seeing a steady increase with this past two years and this past semester is filled to capacity,” said Dean Crowell, assistant professor of carpentry with Honolulu Community College.

Instructors say it’s a reflection of the growing construction industry, and that means, HCC could grow as well “by hiring more teachers,” Crowell said. “Expanding so we can accommodate more students.”

Even with the projected growth, one expert KHON2 spoke with said there’s enough workers in Hawaii to meet the demand.

John White of the Pacific Resource Partnership, which represents the largest construction union in the state, said part of the reason Hawaii has enough construction workers is the type of construction work happening now.

“A lot of the projects in Kakaako, for instance, are multi-family projects, which require lesser construction workers than say, tracked houses and single-family houses,” White said.

Last year, Hawaii had the highest building permit volume in history, $5 billion, driven largely by development in Kakaako.

But construction employment is not hitting any records. In February of this year, 38,900 construction workers were employed in Hawaii. The record: 40,100 in 2007.

White says more projects does not necessarily mean more jobs.

“What you are going to see is a continuation of the level of construction work that we’re seeing right now. It’s just going to shift from, say, Kakaako high-rise buildings to Hoopili and Koa Ridge type,” White said.

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