This demographics section attempts to both define North Hawaii geographically and describe the population of North Hawaii and Hawaii County.
North Hawaii can be defined by census tracts, or zip codes, or by school complex area or political districts. The total population for each of these differs slightly. One of the largest sources of demographic data for North Hawaii comes from the U.S. Census. We most commonly define North Hawaii by using the U.S. Census 2010 tracts (chart).
When data is not available by census tract, for example hospitalization data, corresponding zip code data is used, based on the North Hawaii hospital service area, which includes these zip codes (chart).
North Hawaii includes the districts of North Kohala, South Kohala and Hamakua and (chart).
Since education is a predictor of health and increasing educational attainment is a community selected priority, it is important to review how North Hawaii is divided into school complexes (chart). Many North Hawaii students travel significant distances to attend high school; there is no centrally located public high school in North Hawaii. While students living in Kohala attend Kohala High School, some students in the Hamakua and South Kohala districts travel to North Kona district to attend school in the Kealakehe school complex area.
North Hawaii politically is defined at these levels: County Council district 1 and 9, State Representative district 1 and 7 and State Senate district 1 (chart).
Population Growth Higher in Hawaii County
According to the U.S. Census, during the time period of 2000 – 2010, Hawaii County experienced a 24% growth in population compared to the State growth rate of 12%. (chart) The rate of population growth impacts community quality of life, especially when infrastructure growth does not keep pace with population growth in areas including: schools and teachers, healthcare workforce, police workforce and roads.
Licensed Drivers and Registered Vehicles Growth Higher in Hawaii County
Hawaii County growth of licensed drivers and registered vehicles again outpaced the State. Between 2000 and 2010, the number of licensed drivers in Hawaii County grew by 24%, while the State grew by 18% (chart). Between 2000 and 2010, the number of registered vehicles in Hawaii County grew by 30%, while the State grew by 19% (chart).
Travel Time to Work for Hawaii County
One of the consequences of population growth and vehicle growth in Hawaii County is longer travel times to work. The average Hawaii County travel time to work is about the same as that of the City and County of Honolulu, (26 minutes) for the year 2010 (chart).
Implication: Many individuals, organizations and community meetings have clearly stated concerns about the impact of rapid growth in North Hawaii and Hawaii County combined with inadequate infrastructure growth. As North Hawaii and Hawaii County look toward their preferred future and improving health and quality of life, they will need to develop new policies and resources to address the current infrastructure gaps.
Age Distribution in Hawaii County Similar to other Counties
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey 2010, the age distribution for Hawaii County is generally similar to all the other counties (chart).
There is some difference in age distribution within North Hawaii. The highest senior population is in Hamakua and the highest youth population is in South Kohala (chart). North Kohala is defined by census tract 218, South Kohala by census tracts 217.01, 217.02 and Hamakua by census tracts 219 and 220.
Since we know that educational attainment is closely linked with health, it is useful to look at the percentage of the population 25 years and older who have less than a high school education. Hawaii County has a slightly lower proportion of adults without a high school degree when compared to the state for 2010 (chart), according to the American Community Survey estimates. However, within Hawaii County there are pockets of high proportion without a high school degree.
According to the American Community Survey 2010 data; Hawaii County is also similar to the State for the population with some college, but no degree (chart).
The impact of the 13th year of school is strongly positive in reducing death rates as shown by this U.S. Census data (chart).
In part because there is growing recognition of the positive impact of the 13th year of school on health, there is a relatively new focus in North Hawaii and Hawaii County on supporting students to have access to a “13th” year of school and interest in improving career and technical educational opportunities through development of the U.H. Community College in Kona.
Income Lower in Hawaii County
“Per capita income is obtained by dividing aggregate income by total population of an area (U.S. Census, Feb. 2008).
Hawaii County has a substantially lower per capita income according to the U.S. Census data from 2010 (chart) The per capita income in 2010 for Hawaii County was $22,713 compared to $28,629 for the City and County of Honolulu and $27,767 for Maui County and $24,774 for Kauai County.
Median Household Income Lower in Hawaii County
According to the U.S. Census, Small Area Estimates (November, 2011), the Hawaii County median household income was $46,444 (chart) compared to a median household income of nearly $68,000 for the City and County of Honolulu. In other words, 50% of the Hawaii County households had incomes less than $46,444 and 50% of households made more than $46,444. This is substantially lower than the City and County of Honolulu.
Poverty Higher in Hawaii County
The influence of poverty on health is clear. Hawaii County has nearly a third of its population (31.7%) with an income at or below 200% Federal Poverty Level compared to (22.5%) for the City and County of Honolulu (chart).
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the 2012 Hawaii federal poverty guides for a family of four persons was $26,510 compared to the other States except Alaska, which was $28,820 for a Hawaii family of four. 200% of federal poverty level for Hawaii for a family of four was $53,020. 200% of federal poverty level for Alaska for a family of four was $57,640.
Recent data released from the American Community Survey 2010, shows that Hawaii County also has a higher ratio of income to poverty (chart). This is another way to look at a family’s income to their poverty threshold.
Wide Income Disparity is Associated with Poor Health
According to a study by Harvard and Johns Hopkins University (1999) comparing the health of all the counties in the 50 U.S. states, there is a strong correlation between counties with a large income disparity and counties with poor health. In that study, counties with a large income disparity had higher death rates overall as well as for stroke and infant mortality. Hawaii County does have a larger income disparity as measured by the Gini Index and has higher overall death rates (chart). See also death rates for Hawaii County under Health Status.
Hawaii County Has High Unemployment
Hawaii County has twice a higher average proportion of the population unemployed (8.0%) compared to (4.0%) for the City and County of Honolulu for years 2010 (chart).
Percent Children Living in Poverty
According the American Community Survey 2010, the proportion of children under 18 years old living in poverty is higher in Hawaii County compared to the other counties (chart).
For census designated place of Kawaihae-Waikoloa one out of five children live in poverty. Three of the five census designated places in North Hawaii have 15% or more children under six years old living in poverty (chart).
Proportion of Single Parent Families
Recent data from the American Community Survey 2010 reports that Hawaii County (45.6%) has a high proportion of single parent families living with children 18 years of age compared to the City & County of Honolulu (36.1%). However, Maui County had the highest proportion (53.8%) (chart).
Hawaii County has a Higher Hawaiian Population
Hawaii County self-reported ethnicity differs from the State ethnicity, according to the Hawaii Health Survey, 2009 (chart). Hawaii County has a substantially higher proportion of self-reported Hawaiian ethnicity (30.8%) compared to (25.3%) for the state. Hawaii County also has more Caucasians, (30.2%) compared to (20.8%) for the state. On the other hand, Hawaii County has fewer Japanese (14.4% vs. 21.7%) and fewer Filipino, (11.4% vs. 13.9%).
According to the 2010 American Community Survey data substantiates a higher Hawaiian population in Hawaii County, Hawaii County as a whole had 33.8% Hawaiians, while the State had 26.2% (chart). Within North Hawaii there is a higher Hawaiian population in Waimea 42.0% and North Kohala 37.2%(chart).
Note: Different data sources may use different definitions and calculations for the Hawaiian population.