Report: Many Hawaii families not earning enough to sustain themselves


A new report by the state breaks down just how much a person needs to earn to live in Hawaii.

In 2014 statewide, about 18.5 percent of couples with no children, 45.5 percent of couples with two children, and 45.3 percent of single adults had incomes below the self-sufficiency standard.

Kauai was the highest at $38,472 for a single adult up to $79,750 for a family of two adults and two children. Hawaii Island came in the lowest at $24,435 for a single adult and $58,874 for a family of four.

Is anything being done to bridge the income gap?

Back in 2014, Hawaii made national headlines and even got a official statement from President Barack Obama when then-Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed into a law a bill raising the state minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

“This is an investment and the people who are working at this survival wage are those who not only put forward the work effort and put that money back into the economy,” Abercrombie said at the time.

Even with the bump in pay, many residents are barely scraping by.

While there has been talk of raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, a state representative says that could do more bad than good.

“To push the minimum wage up too much too fast would really make it so the economy could not absorb those kinds of increases,” said Rep. Mark Nakashima, D, chair, House Committee on Labor and Public Employment. “So at that point, we would see a lot more failures across the economy.”

We’ve already told you about how restaurants and retailers are struggling with the current minimum wage increase, having to charge customers more to offset the costs to pay workers more.

There is hope, though, for workers trying to make more.

Nakashima says this March, representatives from the state departments of labor, human services, and education, and Hawaii’s colleges will come together for the first time to come up with a plan to provide workforce training for Hawaii residents.

“The hope is that we are able to provide training to the workforce so they are able to garner wages above the minimum wage,” Nakashima said.View the full report online here.

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