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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, August 9, 2007

More whites, fewer Asians in Hawaii

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 •  Vegas seeing more Hawaiian transplants

By Christie Wilson
Advertiser Neighbor Island Editor


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Census Bureau data released yesterday show a continuing shift in Hawai'i's racial makeup, with the percent of Asians in decline while the white population increases.

The state's population overall increased an estimated 6.1 percent since 2000, to 1.285 million.

Population estimates for July 2006 show that people who claimed Asian descent alone or in combination with other races accounted for 55.6 percent of the state's total population, down from 58.2 percent in 2000.

Meanwhile, the white population (alone or in combination) accounted for 42.6 percent of the state's total population in July 2006, up from the 40.3 percent in 2000.

The white-alone population increased to 28.6 percent, or an average of 9,227 people a year from 2000 to 2006, said Eugene Tian, a research and statistics officer with the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, who provided analysis of the census data.

The population of Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders (alone or in combination) made up 21.4 percent of Hawai'i's total population, a decline from 23.4 percent in 2000. The largest decline in the Hawaiian/Pacific Islander population was in Honolulu County, which lost 12,623 members during that period, according to Tian.

The other counties showed a net increase in the Hawaiian/Pacific Islander population, but the Honolulu loss was enough to overwhelm the Neighbor Island gains, and the state as a whole showed a loss of 8,664 Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders from 2000 to 2006.

However, researchers who study the Native Hawaiian community have long disputed Census Bureau methods and say there are plenty of signs the population is actually growing.

The sum of percentages exceeds 100 percent because a person can be counted more than once, depending on how many races he or she claims.

In national rankings, Honolulu County led the nation with a population that was 59 percent Asian. The only other U.S. county with an Asian majority was Kaua'i.

In terms of numbers, Honolulu County had the nation's largest population of Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders (177,000), and Los Angeles County was second (59,000).


The Census Bureau also released age data for the nation's counties and states.

Hawai'i's 65-and-older population accounted for 14 percent of total residents, while those 85 and older claimed 2.1 percent of the population. Both figures have grown since 2000.

Tian said that the elderly population rose 1.8 percent a year from 2000 to 2006, while the state's total population increased 1 percent annually during the same period.

Of the state's four major counties, Honolulu had the highest percentage of children under age 5 in the population (7 percent) and the highest percentage of residents aged 65 and older (14.4 percent).

The 65-and-older crowd made up 13.3 percent of the Big Island's residents, 14.2 percent of Kaua'i's population, and only 11.7 percent of Maui residents. By comparison, Charlotte County, Fla., led the nation with the highest proportion of people 65 and older at 31.2 percent.


The under-5 bunch comprised 6.3 percent of the Big Island's population, 6.4 percent of Kaua'i's population and 6.6 percent of Maui's population. By comparison, 13.1 percent of the population of Webb County, Texas, was younger than 5, putting it at the top of the list nationally in that category.

Kaua'i residents had the oldest median age at 39.6 years, followed by Maui at 38 years, the Big Island at 37.7 years and Honolulu at 36.9 years.

Population estimates for July 2006 show Honolulu at 909,863, the Big Island at 171,191, Maui at 141,320 and Kaua'i at 63,004.

The Big Island saw the largest percentage increase in population with 15.1 percent growth since 2000, followed by Maui (10.3 percent), Kaua'i (7.8 percent) and Honolulu (3.8 percent).

The data are based on estimates of the U.S. population for July 1, 2006. The Census Bureau estimates population change from the Census 2000 using annual data on births, deaths and international migration.

Reach Christie Wilson at cwilson@honoluluadvertiser.com.

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Correction: Hawai‘i’s population has increased an estimated 6.1 percent since 2000. Due to an editing error, a previous version of this story incorrectly said the increase took place in the past year.