UH research predicts COVID-19 could cause “nearly 4000” job losses this year

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON) — The University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization (UHERO) released an updated economic forecast based on recent COVID-19 developments, predicting “significant economic impacts” and the loss of thousands of jobs.

“With a sharp downturn in tourism and a long recovery period, our macroeconomic forecast for Hawaii is now much more pessimistic, with job losses of nearly four thousand workers by the third quarter of this year, and a very restrained pace of hiring for the next several years,” the report states.

This was an update from a February 24th economic forecast, which had a much milder assessment of COVID-19’s economic impact in the islands. Since then, as the virus has spread rapidly in countries across the globe, the decline in international arrivals has intensified.

“While international passenger counts were only 7% lower than year-earlier levels in mid February,” the report states, “by the first week of March, that gap widened to 32%. Japanese passenger growth rates have fallen from -1.4% in mid-February to -31% in the first week of March.”

Honolulu is predicted to be most affected, as it is most reliant on international tourism.

The report concludes: “It is important to note that we do not consider this a ‘worst case’ scenario, which given current uncertainty is impossible to tie down. Clearly, the situation is very fluid. In coming weeks and months, UHERO will continue to track developments closely and release revised forecasts.”

The full report can be read here.

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