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Planning is critical to meet future growth

Well, we can stop complaining about too many people moving to Hawaii and ruining everything for the rest of us here in paradise.

Well, let’s say, we should. But most of us probably won’t because so many of us like to complain.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2016 state population estimates, more people are leaving Hawaii than moving here.

It says: “27 more people moving out of the state of Hawaii to other states in the U.S. than those moving into the state of Hawaii from other states per day.”

It also says: “20 more people moving into the state of Hawaii from foreign countries than those moving out of the state of Hawaii to foreign countries per day.”

So, the net loss, if our math is right, is seven when it comes to total migration per day.

What? More are moving to other states than coming here? Isn’t this paradise? The land of sunshine and beaches and aloha? Why would people move here and then leave? How could that be?

It’s not rocket science why folks come to The Aloha State, and after a few years, say goodbye and good riddance. High cost of living. Missing family back home. Island fever. Fewer career opportunities. And some people, new arrivals and long-time residents, just aren’t all that friendly.

You can only spend so much time at the beaches and going for walks at sunset before you miss the very thing you were trying to escape on the mainland.

The Census Bureau had some other interesting statistics about Hawaii that do show, overall, the state’s population is growing.

• On July 1, 2015, the resident population for the state of Hawaii was 1,425,157.

• On July 1, 2016, the resident population for the state of Hawaii was 1,428,557.

• On an average, between July 1, 2015, and July 1, 2016, there was an increase of nine people per day:

• On average, Hawaii see 51 births per day and 33 deaths per day.

That last statistic backs up claims that Hawaii’s growth isn’t due to newcomers. They’re not the ones crowding the roads and creating traffic troubles. It’s due to growing families and, yes, visitors. But this economy depends on tourism. Growth can be attributed to families who have long called Hawaii home. The ones born and raised here. The ones who want to stay put. While newcomers can be the source of our angst, we can’t begrudge locals for staying put.

In case you were wondering, Utah’s population crossed the 3 million mark as it became the nation’s fastest-growing state over the last year. Its population increased 2 percent to 3.1 million from July 1, 2015, to July 1, 2016, according to U.S. Census Bureau national and state population estimates.

“States in the south and west continued to lead in population growth,” said Ben Bolender, chief of the Population Estimates Branch. “In 2016, 37.9 percent of the nation’s population lived in the south and 23.7 percent lived in the west.”

Following Utah, Nevada (2.0 percent), Idaho (1.8 percent), Florida (1.8 percent) and Washington (1.8 percent) saw the largest percentage increases in population.

North Dakota, yes, North Dakota, which had been the fastest-growing state for the previous four years, mostly from people moving into the state, fell out of the top 10 in growth due to a net outflow of migrants to other parts of the country. Its growth slowed from 2.3 percent in the previous year to 0.1 percent.

Nationally, the U.S. population grew by 0.7 percent to 323.1 million. Furthermore, the population of voting-age residents, adults age 18 and over, grew to 249.5 million, making up 77.2 percent of the population in 2016, an increase of 0.9 percent from 2015 (247.3 million).

Eight states lost population between July 1, 2015, and July 1, 2016, including Pennsylvania, New York and Wyoming, all three of which had grown the previous year. Illinois lost more people than any other state (-37,508).

In the end, growth is good. If a community isn’t growing, if people and businesses are moving away, that’s a problem that will rear its ugly head down the road. Slow, steady growth is a sign of a place people want to be. Growth drives the economy. Growth creates opportunities for businesses and for people who live here.

There is a type of growth, unplanned, unprepared, that is not good. A drawback to rapid growth is rising cost of housing that pushes locals out of the market. Roads that once seemed roomy are crowded with cars. That’s the kind of growth that upsets many.

With good planning, Hawaii can grow without losing its aloha.


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