For the fifth consecutive year, Hawaii's population has decreased, according to the United States Census Bureau's annual population estimates .
Hawaii ranks fourth in the nation for highest population decline. The top three, including the District of Columbia, were Illinois at .9%, New York at 1.6%, and D.C ranking No. 1 at 2.9%.
The state's population decline breaks a long pattern of positive growth. Prior to 2017, the last negative change in population was in 1999, and before that, 1963.
Last year, the Census Bureau also released its 2020 Census population results for Hawaii, which is counted only once per decade. Hawaii showed a 7% population increase from 2010 to 2020, however, the annual growth rate was the slowest the state had ever recorded. It grew at half the rate compared to 2000 and 2010.
Hawaii's high cost of living has historically been a top reason for many residents to move away, but the pandemic increased economic hardship as unemployment rates went up.
In March 2020, Hawaii had an unemployment rate of 2.1% with 13,993 unemployed, but by April of that year, it had skyrocketed to 21.9% with 139,635 unemployed, according to Hawaii's Department of Labor. The unemployment rate has since dropped significantly, but was last recorded at 6.4%, or 41,113 unemployed, in October 2021.
The majority of the residents moving out of state are ages 18 to 34 and have a bachelor's degree or more.
"It is not the higher wages, per se, that are encouraging people to move to the mainland, but the types of jobs available on the mainland instead," writes the Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism in a new report focused on Hawaii-born residents moving to the continental U.S.
Honolulu County residents on the island of Oahu are more likely to move away than other counties, and it's to other states in the U.S., according to a 2019 DBEDT report .
California, Nevada, Texas and Washington were the top destinations.
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