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The Job Market

More often than not, relocating to a new state and city is a life-changing decision, one that can affect your family, your day-to-day lifestyle, and especially your employment picture. The quality of job opportunities tops the priority list for most people looking to relocate, and as such, a city or region’s job market weighs heavily on magazines’ and Web sites’ “Best Places to Live” or “Best Places to Relocate” lists and ratings.

Honolulu is consistently ranked as one of the best places to “live, work, and play.” For example, Sperling’s “Best Places” ( ranks Honolulu at number five on its recent listing of the 10 best places to live the U.S. And when it comes to the “work” aspect of that equation, Honolulu’s job market ranks 32nd among the nation’s top 100 job markets. Major employers include both large private sector employers, and state and federal governments. The U.S. Department of Labor reported that the unemployment rate for the Honolulu metropolitan area was 3.8 percent in December 2013, compared to a national employment rate of 7 percent. These characteristics add up to make Honolulu’s strong job market both stable and diverse.

Public-sector employment makes up about 22 percent of total employment in Honolulu and is one of the reasons for the stability and low unemployment rate. This wide base of government employers provides protection from economic slumps. In addition to the numerous local, state, and federal agencies that employ a little over 100,000 workers, there are also dozens of large corporations (and many more smaller ones) that employ workers in the areas of trade and utilities, leisure, education, health services, military contracting, and financial services, just to name a few.

While Honolulu’s public sector presence and diverse economy make for an overall strong job market, that’s not to say it’s a job seeker’s paradise either. No region of the country is truly recession proof, and though Honolulu has fared considerably better than many comparable metropolitan areas, it’s best for potential job seekers to get the lay of the land and evaluate opportunities relative to their own strengths, experience, and professional aspirations. Below is a collection of statistics and figures to help you become familiar with the opportunities that Honolulu may have to offer.

What Jobs are Out There?

For 2013, ranked Honolulu No. 22 on its list of “Best Large Cities Job Growth.” And while this ranking is high, certain industries and occupations are favored in the Honolulu economy.

Honolulu County’s four major industry sectors are government; trade, transportation, and utilities; leisure and hospitality; and professional and business services. These four industries account for about two-thirds of the total employment in Honolulu County.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor numbers for December 2013, the government is the largest employer in Honolulu, employing, as stated, over 100,000 people. In addition to the city being the state capital, the federal government also employs a substantial number of people, especially in the military. In the category of trade, transportation and utilities over 80,000 people are employed. This makes sense because Honolulu has recently expanded its harbor facilities – including a bustling foreign trade zone — and the city is at the transportation crossroads of the Pacific.

The leisure and hospitality industry employs over 64,000 in Honolulu, and education and health services employ over 60,000. Honolulu offers a wide range of career opportunities for those in educational services. It is home to the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Chaminade University of Honolulu, Hawaii Pacific University, and Brigham Young University-Hawaii. All together, there are over 65,000 college students in Honolulu and approximately 34,000 students in the Honolulu Public School District. There are also some 30 private elementary, middle and secondary schools in Honolulu. The list of the largest employers in the healthcare industry is supplied in the list of Honolulu’s largest employers below.

Of the 444,000 people employed in Honolulu, the professional and business services sector employs approximately 56,000 people in Honolulu in December 2013.

The fastest growing industry in the city from July to December 2013 was the leisure and hospitality sector; however, computer and electronic manufacturing, transportation and healthcare also saw increases in employment. Other important elements of Honolulu’s economic base include trade and transportation, general construction, research and development, and mining, logging and construction These growing industries also pay better salaries to their employees than the median salaries in the leisure and hospitality industry.

Honolulu also is the top city in the U.S. in attracting investment money from Asia. In 2008 (the latest available data), over $9.95 billion dollars were invested by Asian companies and individuals in the city’s economy. And so another attraction to Honolulu is the multinational flavor of companies and diverse population there. This dynamic inflow of money is complemented by stable public sector employment to keep unemployment low and generate new jobs.

Here is a list of major industries by non-farm employment sectors that complement the major employment sectors of government; trade, transportation, and utilities; leisure and hospitality; and professional and business services:

Mining, Logging, and Construction                                 22,900

Financial Activities                                                           21,100

Other Services                                                                   20,600

Manufacturing                                                                  11,300

Information Technology                                                   6,700

In-Demand Jobs

If defense contracting, manufacturing and health services are some of the fastest growing industries in Honolulu’s economy, it’s no surprise that some of the hottest jobs listed below are associated with these kinds of companies. Of course, there are many more job categories that are strong in the Honolulu economy. Consequently, this list is not definitive but only an indication of current trends in the job market.

Mechanical Engineer

Traffic Technician

Network Analyst

Software Engineer, Applications

Research Scientist

Healthcare Professional

Education Professional

Honolulu’s Largest and Best Employers

In addition to the government agencies (at both the state and federal levels) that have made their home in Honolulu, a number of corporate powerhouses have also established themselves in the area. Thanks in part to Hawaii’s position as a nexus of trade from West to East, its militarily key position and the natural beauty of the islands, many business and government giants have chosen to locate large facilities in Honolulu, and they’ve brought thousands of jobs with them.

Below is a selection of the area’s largest employers. The list includes government agencies and organizations as well as private and publicly owned corporations.

  • Federal Government: The Federal Government maintains job listings by state. For Hawaii that address is There are numerous federal offices in Honolulu and they are listed in the yellow pages. If you have a job lead relating to a specific government office, it may be advantageous to contact that office, but the jobs site is probably your best bet for getting through the maze of government bureaucracy.
  • City and County of Honolulu, 650 S. King St., 10th Floor, Honolulu, HI 96813, 808-768-8500 (Human Resources Department),; Honolulu County employs approximately 8,000 people in departments administering and supporting the running of the city and county.
  • State of Hawaii, Princess Ruth Keelikolani Building, 830 Punchbowl St., Honolulu, HI 96813-5094, 808-587-1540,; The State of Hawaii employs over 8,000 in Honolulu.
  • University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2500 Campus Rd., Honolulu, HI 96822, 808-956-8111,; Over 20,000 students attend the University, which employs 1,272 faculty. Princeton Review named the University a “Best Western College” and an “America’s Best Value College.” The undergraduate program in International Business ranks 19th in the country by U.S. News & World Report: America’s Best Colleges 2009.
  • State of Hawaii Department of Education, Office of Human Resources, Teacher Recruitment, 680 Iwilei Rd., Suite 490, Honolulu, HI 96817, 800-305-5104,; Hawaii’s public schools are consolidated into a single statewide school system. Application for employment is made through this agency, with the exception of Hawaii’s charter schools. Within the state system, there are seven school districts throughout the state. A single application automatically enters eligible candidates for all vacancies in Hawaii’s seven districts.
  • Charter School Administrative Office, State of Hawaii, 1111 Bishop St., Suite 516, Honolulu, HI 96813, 808-586-3775, There are 27 public charter schools in Hawaii. Their focus is “to address the particular educational needs of native Hawaiians.” Each charter school makes its own hiring decisions, so applications must be made to individual schools. A listing of each school and contact person is contained in the HCSAO Web site.
  • Starwood Hotels and Resorts – Hawaii, 2155 Kalakaua Ave., 3rd Floor, Honolulu HI 96815, 808-921-4000,; Starwood employs 5,500 people in 11 hotels and resorts in Hawaii with four being located in Honolulu and offering over 4,000 guest rooms for the Honolulu area. The four hotels in Honolulu have a 24-hour Job Hotline at (808) 931-8294.
  • Marriott International, 2155 Kalakaua Ave., Suite 710, Honolulu HI 96815, 808 792-8882,; Marriott employs 5,200 people in Hawaii, operating four hotels on Oahu and ten total in Hawaii. In 2007, Fortune Magazine recognized Marriott as one of “America’s Most Admired Companies.” It was also named the most admired company in the lodging industry, for the eighth consecutive year.
  • Hawaii Pacific Health, 55 Merchant St., Honolulu HI 96813, 808 535-7401,; Employing 4,300 people, this diverse organization operates three hospitals in and near Honolulu. One segment of the organization, Wilcox Health, operates a hospital in Lihue on the island of Kauai, and numerous clinics around the islands.
  • Hawaiian Electric Industries, 900 Richards St, Honolulu HI 96813, 808-543-5662,; Employing 3,407 people, this diversified company supplies power to 95 percent of Hawaii’s population through its electric utilities, Hawaiian Electric Company, Hawaii Electric Light Company and Maui Electric Company. The company also provides a wide range of financial services to individuals and businesses through American Savings Bank, one of Hawaii’s largest financial institutions.
  • Hawaii Health Systems Corp., 3675 Kilauea Ave., Honolulu HI 96816, 808-733-4020,; This “public benefit corporation” is operated by the state of Hawaii and is the nation’s fourth largest public hospital system, employing 3,400 people. The corporation is made up of 13 hospitals and clinics that provide medical services to citizens on four Hawaiian Islands.
  • Alexander & Baldwin, PO Box 3440, Honolulu, HI 96801, 808-525-6611,; A conglomerate headquartered in Honolulu, this company’s major lines of business are ocean transportation, property development, management and food products.
  • HTH Corporation, 2490 Kalakaua Ave., Honolulu, Hawaii 96801, 808-923-8338, 800-367-2373, The HTH hotel collection includes the 837-room Pacific Beach Hotel and the 359-room Pagoda Hotel. In addition to the two Hawaii hotels, HTH Corporation owns office buildings and residential buildings throughout the island of Oahu. HTH Property Management manages all of the property assets for the corporation, which includes office and retail space within each of the hotels.
  • Kaiser Permanente, 2828 Paa St., Honolulu, HI 96819, 808-432-5850,; Provides integrated health care service to businesses & individuals. Kaiser operates facilities on the islands of Oahu, Kauai, Hawaii and Maui, serving 222,594 members in the state.
  • Wavecom Solutions, 1132 Bishop St., Suite 800, Honolulu HI 96813-2822, 808-326-9545,; This telecommunications company offers a range of integrated telecommunication products and services including local dial tone, high speed Internet, long distance, and special access and enhanced data services. Wavecom Solutions has more than 10,000 submarine and terrestrial fiber miles connecting the six major Hawaiian Islands.
  • dck pacific construction, 707 Richards St., Suite 410, Honolulu, HI 96813, 808-533-5000,; A general contracting company predominantly focused on military and hospitality construction, dck is heavily involved in Hawaiian projects but does business in the Middle East, North America, and Guam as well.
  • General Dynamics,, has two large operations in Honolulu. The first is General Dynamics Information Technology, which provides systems integration, hardware and software products, and engineering, management and support services. It is located at 155 Kapalulu Place, Honolulu, HI 96819, 808- 835-3520. The second is General Dynamics DCS, 3375 Koapaka Street, Honolulu, HI 96819-1869, 808-833-3151. This branch of the company is involved with Data Collection Systems in reconnaissance and surveillance applications.
  • Raytheon Technical Services Co., 2828 Paa St., Honolulu, HI 96819-4430, 808-441-6417, Raytheon is an aerospace company with wide ranging capabilities. Raytheon Technical Services “specializes in training, logistics, engineering, product support, and operational support services and solutions for the Mission Support, homeland security, space, civil aviation, counter proliferation and counterterrorism markets.”
  • ALTRES, Inc., 967 Kapiolani Blvd., Honolulu, HI 96814-2104, 808- 591-4900,; Hawaii’s largest human resources company, this company serves as the human resources “back office” for hundreds of Hawaiian businesses. Founded in 1969, it could be a good networking link for job hunters.
  • BAE, 999 Bishop St., Suite 2700, Honolulu, HI 96813, 808-441-2500,; BAE is a government research and development concern focusing on remote sensing and photonic technologies and products. This company is the largest private sector ship repair company in Hawaii in the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard.
  • The Boeing Company, PO Box 30834, Honolulu, HI 96820, 808-533-3100,; Boeing provides engineering and logistic services in support of the C-17 aircraft fleet.
  • Lockheed Martin, 3375 Koapaka St., Suite B-205, Honolulu, HI 96819-1862, 808-254-1532,; Lockheed supports various military operations in Hawaii, including testing of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency’s Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) weapon system at Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) on Kauai.
  • Northrop Grumman Corporation, 737 Bishop St., Suite 2850 Mauka Tower, Honolulu, HI 96813, 808-529-9500,; Northrop supports Naval operations at Pearl Harbor in a number of capacities, including communications, logistics and emergency response management.
  • Monsanto Company, 2104 Lauwiliwili St., Suite 101K, Kapolei, HI 96707, 808-879-4074,; Monsanto operates seven locations in Hawaii. It is an integral part of Hawaii’s burgeoning seed industry, which is now the state’s largest agricultural commodity, valued at $176 million per year.
  • Booz Allen Hamilton, 733 Bishop St., Suite 3000, Makai Tower, Honolulu, HI 96813-3219, 808- 545-6800,; This company is a nationally recognized consulting firm.
  • Maui Divers Jewelry, 1451 South King St., Suite 210, Honolulu, HI 96814, 800-253-6016,; This company touts itself as the largest jewelry manufacturer and retailer in Hawaii.

Honolulu by the Numbers

When ranks its “Best Cities for Jobs,” a number of indicators are factored into the rankings: median household income, unemployment rate, income growth, cost of living, and job growth. It’s these factors that many economists and industry observers use to evaluate the health of a particular job market and economy.

Setting all accolades aside, it’s only reasonable for potential job seekers to ask: How does Honolulu fare in terms of these indicators? And the answer is: quite well.


Honolulu and Hawaii boast the most diverse populations in the United States. Following is a breakdown of population by ethic group:



Source: U.S. Census


                                                                                  Honolulu County                             

White                                                                                      22%

Black                                                                                      2.8%

Asian                                                                                     43.3%

Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander                       9.6%

Persons reporting two or more races,                               21.6%

Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin                               8.8%

Median Household Income

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Honolulu County had an estimated median household income of $71,262, “out earning” the state average by nearly $4,000. Moreover, the median household income for Honolulu County also outpaced the U.S. average by nearly $20,000.

But what do stats like the median household income mean when it comes to things like the “Best Cities for Jobs” ranking? Median household incomes are calculated by adding the income received during a calendar year by all of a household’s members (15 years old and over) and then finding the average of that figure across a particular region. This figure is considered to be a general indicator of economic well being of households in that particular region. As a result, through an expert’s eye, Honolulu’s households as a whole are likely faring pretty well when compared to counterparts in the rest of the country.


Median Household Incomes, 2011

United States $50,221

Hawaii $63,741

Honolulu County $67,019

Cook County, Illinois (Chicago) $52,516

San Francisco County, CA $70,247

Dade County, FL (Miami) $41,367

Unemployment Rate

Since the economic fallout in 2008, Honolulu’s job market has weathered the storm quite well, even in the face of a volatile economy.

In January 2004, the unemployment stood at 2.9 percent in Honolulu. By October 2011, it had risen to 5.6 percent, which compares to a national unemployment rate of 9.0 for the same month. Continued improvement is expected on the horizon in Honolulu. Additionally, most experts agree that unemployment in Honolulu will continue to fall in 2014.

Cost of Living

The quality of life in Honolulu is legendary. The mild climate, the beauty of the island and the ocean combine with a culture that is more relaxed and healthy than so many other cities the size of Honolulu. But it can also be a pricey place to live. When considering employment offers from companies in “The Big Pineapple,” take into account that the cost of living index is 163.3, compared to the U.S average of 100. That means you’ll be paying more than 50 percent more for many products than you would on the mainland. (These numbers come from the ACCRA Cost of Living Index, which takes into account the variances in the cost of consumer goods and services for each region; it is considered one of the more dependable measures of the cost of living in U.S. metropolitan areas.)

The high cost of living in Honolulu can be attributed to several factors, including Hawaii’s geographic isolation, which makes it necessary to import many of the necessities of life. At the same time, the scarcity of land on the small island of Oahu drives up the price of real estate. Housing is a big factor in the cost of living in this island paradise. So remember to do your homework on what a salary in Hawaii is going to have to be to provide you and yours with a satisfactory lifestyle.


City Cost of Living Index for selected cities:

New York (Manhattan) 217.1

New York (Brooklyn) 177.8

San Francisco, CA 162.9

Orange County, CA 146.0

National Average 100.0

How to Look for Jobs

Now that you’ve read about what kind of jobs are out there and what companies are likely to offer those jobs, a more important question remains: how do you find those jobs? With the pervasiveness of the Internet, “hitting the pavement” has been replaced by “hitting the search engines.”

Nearly every major corporation these days posts job openings on their corporate Web sites. Others may choose to use online job-posting sites such as or to get the word out about open positions. As a result, your fingers can actually do a lot of job-hunting footwork. Here are some of the best resources for sniffing out job openings in and around Honolulu.

  • Corporate Web sites are some of the best resources for job postings, especially if you have a particular company in mind for which you would like to work. Employment opportunities are usually posted under the human resources sections of company Web sites. Some companies only advertise job openings on their Website so it’s a good idea to regularly check company sites to see if anything has opened up.
  • CareerBuilder,, is one of the largest online job-posting sites available today. According to CareerBuilder, more than 300,000 employers post more than 1 million jobs on the Web site. Job seekers can browse job openings for free and can even post their resumes for recruiters to review.
  • Monster,, is another popular online job-posting site. Since its launch in 1994, Monster has become well known as a go-to place for potential job opportunities. Like on CareerBuilder, job seekers can search the site for free and post their resumes for potential employers to review.
  • CraigsList,, is probably best known as the place to post online ads to get rid of your unwanted junk. It can also be a great source for job opportunities, both big and small. CraigsList has become a main source for job leads, as many employers prefer to avoid the costs associated with posting jobs on sites like Monster and CareerBuilder. Job postings on CraigsList can be hit or miss, but if you have the motivation and time to sift through the postings, it’s likely you’ll find a great job lead.
  •,, is a great resource if you’re not too keen on searching through dozens of job postings on CareerBuilder, Monster, and CraigsList. is essentially a search engine that pulls information down from job-posting sites and puts them into one free, searchable database. doesn’t always catch every post, but it can be a great time saver if you’re in a time crunch.
  • The Honolulu Star partners with to offer job listings in Honolulu.
  • The Honolulu Advertiser has a similar partnership with


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