6 in 10 Hawaiʻi adults now live in a household in which at least one person has lost income

According to the United States Census Bureau, their new Household Pulse Survey, released on May 20, “is intended to provide crucial weekly data to help understand the experiences of American households during the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

In this first release of data, the survey finds that nearly 6 in 10 (59.2 percent) adults in Hawaiʻi are in “households where someone had a loss in employment income since March 13, 2020,” which is the highest portion in the nation. In comparison, the national average is 47.5 percent.

Hawaiʻi also has the country’s highest “percent of adults who expect someone in their household to have a loss in employment income in the next four weeks,” at 53.6 percent. That’s nearly 17 percentage points more than the national average of 37 percent.

When it comes to housing insecurity, nearly one-third (32.4 percent) of adults in Hawaiʻi either missed last month’s rent or mortgage payment, or have “slight or no confidence that their household can pay next month’s rent or mortgage on time,” the 5th-highest share in the nation. The national average is close to one-fourth (24.7 percent).

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The U.S. Census Bureau explains that this new weekly survey is meant to “be disseminated in near real-time to inform federal and state response and recovery planning.”

The data shows that Hawaiʻi’s people are facing unprecedented struggles that are among the most difficult in the nation. The data does not reveal the entirety of the situation our residents face, and it must be complemented by on-the-ground insights from community members and organizations across the state who are seeing the impacts first-hand.

What is clear from the data alone is that people need income and rent supports now. The urgency with which families need relief cannot be exaggerated, and state lawmakers must move quickly to provide assistance to needy families.