Can Military Spending Prop Up Hawaii’s Faltering Economy? – Honolulu Civil Beat

As Hawaii looks for ways to rebuild an economy ravaged by the global pandemic, military spending is taking on a more important role as other streams of income run dry.

Tourism has collapsed but defense spending in Hawaii has remained steady and could grow as tensions between the Chinese military and American allies and trade partners have prompted a renewed focus on the Pacific at the Pentagon.

Policymakers have described Hawaii’s economy as a “three-legged stool” propped up by tourism, construction and defense spending.

For many Hawaii residents the pandemic has exposed the delicate nature of the state’s economy as travel restrictions have essentially knocked out tourism — arguably the most important leg of that stool.

“If we did not have our military and federal defense component of that three-legged stool, we would just be about as dead as could be,” said Hawaii U.S. Rep. Ed Case. “It has really provided some stability in an economy that is too highly reliant on just a few economic drivers.”

On Monday, economists said the economic fallout from the dearth of tourism in Hawaii will be worse than expected, judging by a new series of indicators they have been able to measure. The grim news came even as Gov. David Ige signaled that he likely will continue to hold off even longer than Oct. 1 on lifting the 14-day mandatory quarantine for travelers to Hawaii, something tourism industry officials had been counting