Like all states, Hawaii has certain places that are going on hard times. These Hawaii places have an above-average percentage of people living in poverty, out of work, or not making as much as they should be.
Even as the economy continues to improve, it’s worthwhile to look at the places in each state struggling to make ends meet. So we set our sites on locating the poorest places in Hawaii.
To do so, we used Saturday Night Science to analyze the newest Census data from the American Community Survey for the 54 cities in Hawaii with more than 5,000 people.
What’s the poorest city in Hawaii? According to the facts, Makaha is the poorest place in Hawaii for 2023.
This isn’t a commentary on the people that live there or the vibrant culture and traditions of these places. Instead, it’s just a look at the facts.
For more Hawaii reading, check out:
- Best Places To Live In Hawaii
- Cheapest Places To Live In Hawaii
- Richest Cities In Hawaii
- The poorest states in the US
- The poorest cities in the US
The 10 Poorest Cities In Hawaii For 2023
Makaha, unfortunately, ranks as the poorest place in Hawaii thanks to combination of low pay and and a lack of jobs.
The city of 9,710 people averages the lowest median household income in Hawaii and the highest poverty rate. At the very least, the cost of living ranks in the bottom 15% of place in the state, so things like housing are relatively affordable.
The second poorest city in Hawaii is Ewa Villages.
The city ranks as having the 3rd highest incidence of poverty and 3rd lowest median household income. However, the unemployment rate ‘only’ ranks as the 48th highest in the Aloha State.
Placing as the third poorest city, Waianae’s median income ranks as the 5th lowest.
And that’s a sign that there’s a relatively substantial jump in the quality of the economy from second to third place on our list. The poverty rate is 21.185596356390548% and ranks near the bottom of places in the state.
But what makes up for the relatively low incomes of the city is its low cost of living. The income you do make here goes further than in most parts of the Aloha State.
Hilo ranks as the fourth poorest place in Hawaii.
The town ranks as having the 4th lowest median household income and the 5th highest incidence of poverty in the state.
That being said, there’s still a ton of cultural diversity in the city as it hosts many events throughout the year.
The fifth poorest city in Hawaii is Wahiawa.
The city ranks as having the 8th lowest median income in the state. However, an extremely low cost of living prevents a good number of folks from living in poverty as the poverty rate only ranks as the 4th highest in Hawaii.
Still not the best news for Wahiawa.
Nanakuli ranks as the sixth poorest place in the Aloha State.
It ranks as having the 8th highest incidence of poverty and the 5th highest unemployment rate.
Kahaluu-Keauhou places as the seventh poorest city in Hawaii.
The city of over 7,236 ranks as having the 10th highest incidence of poverty in the state. However, it has a very low cost of living which helps to pay the bills each month.
Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 2)
Median Income: $76,495 (9th lowest)
Poverty Rate: 11.0% (13th highest)
People In Poverty: 38,633
More on Urban Honolulu: Data
Urban Honolulu ranks as the eighth poorest city in Hawaii.
The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 25th highest in the state.
Schofield Barracks couldn’t stay out of the top ten poorest places in Hawaii; it ranks number 9.
While the median income is the 2nd lowest, there are a substantial number of people that live below the poverty line. Overall, Schofield Barracks ranks as having the 2most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in Hawaii.
And rounding out the top ten poorest cities in Hawaii is Lahaina.
The city of 13,261 people ranks in the bottom 20% for both median income and poverty rate in the Aloha State.
Methodology: How We Determined The Poorest Places In Hawaii for 2023
The first thing that comes to most people’s minds when they think about determining the poorest places is to simply the poverty rate. That is, the number of people living below a federally established level of income for a household of a certain size.
However, we don’t think that one statistic wholly encompasses what it means to be one of the “poorest places”. So we used Saturday Night Science to look at this set of criteria from the newly released 2017-2021 American Community Survey:
- Poverty Level
- Median Household Income
After we collected the data for all 54 places with more than 5,000 people in Hawaii, we ranked each place from 1 to 54 for each of the criteria, with 1 being the poorest.
We then averaged all the rankings for a place into a “Poor Score” with the place having the lowest overall Poor Score, Makaha, crowned the “Poorest Place In Hawaii For 2023”.
This report has been updated for 2023, which is our tenth time ranking the poorest places in Hawaii.
Summary: The Poorest Cities In Hawaii For 2023
Like we said earlier, when we set out to identify the poorest places in Hawaii, we weren’t sure what we’d encounter, but it ended up being some of the best places to live in Hawaii.
When you look at the data, the cities and places mentioned above meet the criteria for being at the very bottom of the income ladder for everyone that lives there.
If you’re curious enough, here are the richest cities in Hawaii, according to data:
Richest: East Honolulu
2nd Richest: Kailua Cdp (Honolulu County)
3rd Richest: Mililani Mauka
For more Hawaii reading, check out:
Detailed List Of The Poorest Places To Live In Hawaii
|Rank||City||Population||Poverty Rate||Median Income||People In Poverty|
|11||Kailua CDP (Hawaii County)||21,460||9.8%||$79,331||2,104|
|20||Waimea CDP (Hawaii County)||10,422||9.6%||$90,343||996|
|22||Hawaiian Paradise Park||11,942||5.1%||$74,741||605|
|48||West Loch Estate||6,239||2.7%||$111,810||170|
|53||Kailua CDP (Honolulu County)||40,402||4.3%||$133,327||1,742|