HONOLULU (KHON2) — Gas prices keep going up as the war in Ukraine drags on, but what else is at stake for Hawaii’s economy?
Everyone is feeling the pain at the pump and inflation is top of mind as well.
Local economists are unable to predict what will happen next in Ukraine. They do have an idea of how island consumers will be impacted, however.
“There’s a tremendous amount of uncertainty because we don’t know how much longer the conflict will go on,” said Dr. Carl Bonham, executive director at the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization.
“And so all the focus to date has been on supply, right? Not enough oil, not enough wheat, not enough natural gas,” Bonham said.
Hawaii’s chief economist said tourism to the Islands should not take a big hit.
“So, most of our visitors are coming from the U.S. mainland,” said State chief economist Dr. Eugene Tian, “and this war didn’t impact the traveling of U.S. people.”
But Dr. Bonham said Hawaii’s reliance on shipping puts it at a higher risk than other states.
“The ships and the planes are all using oil. We’re not shipping anything by train,” Dr. Bonham said. “We are impacted more directly and then the follow-on effects are, you know, this is basically like a tax increase.”
Dr. Bonham said Ukraine is responsible for a large chunk of the world’s grain production and the ongoing invasion is hampering that supply.
“That’s going to show up, not necessarily with you not being able to get the items,” Dr. Bonham said, “but just that breads — any kind of agricultural product, whether it’s meat or fruits and vegetables — having higher prices.”
One Ala Moana resident said she has not noticed higher grocery bills, but gas prices are hurting.
“Every day, its’ going up,” Aya Okumura said of local gas prices. “So it’s hard to travel and then it’s harder to, of course, going to anywhere in a car.”
Both experts said it is time to consider cutting back on unnecessary spending.
“Really, the only thing that you can possibly do is cut back in areas where you can,” Dr. Bonham said.
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“For consumers, I would recommend that you can buy the necessities, but for the luxury goods, you may want to hold off until future,” Dr. Tian said.