These Are The 10 Poorest Cities In Hawaii For 2019

We used science and data to determine which places in Hawaii are basically dead broke.

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Editor’s Note: This article is an opinion based on facts and is meant as infotainment. Don’t freak out we updated this article for 2019. This is our fourth time ranking the poorest places in Hawaii.

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Hawaii brings to mind images of Urban Honolulu, beautiful landscapes, and some of the best people you’ll find in the good ole US of A.

However, like all states, Hawaii has certain places that are going on hard times. These places have an above average percent of people that are living in poverty, out of work, or not making as much as they should be.

With all the talk about income inequality going on around the country, we thought it prudent to take a look at the places in each state that are struggling to make it even as the economy continues to improve. So we set our sites on bringing attention to the places in Hawaii that could use a helping hand.

To do so, we analyzed the newest Census data from the American Community Survey for the 50 places in Hawaii with more than 5,000 people.

We were left with this set of the ten poorest places in the Aloha State for 2019:

  1. Makaha (Photos)
  2. Hawaiian Beaches
  3. Waianae (Photos)
  4. Hawaiian Paradise Park
  5. Nanakuli (Photos)
  6. Hilo (Photos)
  7. Waipio Acres
  8. Maili (Photos)
  9. Wailea (Photos)
  10. Wailuku (Photos)

Again, 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.

And according to the facts, Makaha is the poorest place in Hawaii for 2019.

Rich people not your cup of tea? Feel free to check out the richest places in Hawaii or the most dangerous.

For more on how we calculated the top ten, and for more information about these places, read on.

If you’re looking for something more national, check out the poorest states in America or the poorest cities in America.

For more Hawaii reading, check out:

How We Determined The Poorest Places In Hawaii for 2019

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 looked at this set of criteria from the newly released 2013-2017 American Community Survey:

  • Poverty Level
  • Median Household Income adjusted for the cost of living
  • Unemployment Rate

The “median household income adjusted for the cost of living” attempts to gauge how expensive it is to live in a place and how that impacts the quality of life. For example, a town might have fewer people living below the official poverty line, but the cost of living is so high they’d still feel poor.

The unemployment rate tries to capture the prospects for improvement in the city or town. If more people are employed, the brighter the future looks and vice versa.

After we collected the data for all 50 places with more than 5,000 people in Hawaii, we ranked each place from 1 to 50 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 2019”.

You can learn more about the top ten below or skip to the end to see the rankings for all 50 places.

Makaha, HI

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 8,832
Rank Last Year: 2 (Up 1)
Median Income: $51,833 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 18.2% (2nd highest)
Poverty Rate: 30.1% (1st highest)
More on Makaha:  Data | Photos

Makaha, unfortunately, ranks as the poorest place in Hawaii thanks to combination of low pay and and a lack of jobs.

The city of 8,832 people averages the 2nd lowest median household income in Hawaii and the 1st 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.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 5,302
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 1)
Median Income: $41,385 (1st lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 23.9% (1st highest)
Poverty Rate: 20.2% (6th highest)
More on Hawaiian Beaches:  Data

The second poorest city in Hawaii is Hawaiian Beaches.

The city ranks as having the 5th highest incidence of poverty and 1st lowest median household income. However, the unemployment rate ‘only’ ranks as the 1st highest in the Aloha State.

Waianae, HI

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 13,636
Rank Last Year: 3 (No Change)
Median Income: $60,282 (7th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 14.3% (3rd highest)
Poverty Rate: 27.0% (2nd highest)
More on Waianae:  Data | Photos

Placing as the third poorest city, Waianae’s median income ranks as the 7th 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 27.0% 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.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 11,564
Rank Last Year: 5 (Up 1)
Median Income: $51,908 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.4% (7th highest)
Poverty Rate: 22.2% (3rd highest)
More on Hawaiian Paradise Park:  Data

Hawaiian Paradise Park ranks as the fourth poorest place in Hawaii.

The town ranks as having the 3rd lowest median household income and the 3rd 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.

Nanakuli, HI

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 11,757
Rank Last Year: 6 (Up 1)
Median Income: $65,101 (8th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 13.3% (4th highest)
Poverty Rate: 16.2% (8th highest)
More on Nanakuli:  Data | Photos

The fifth poorest city in Hawaii is Nanakuli.

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 8th highest in Hawaii.

Still not the best news for Nanakuli.

Hilo, HI

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 45,703
Rank Last Year: 9 (Up 3)
Median Income: $57,151 (4th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.2% (10th highest)
Poverty Rate: 19.0% (7th highest)
More on Hilo:  Data | Photos

Hilo ranks as the sixth poorest place in the Aloha State.

It ranks as having the 7th highest incidence of poverty and the 10th highest unemployment rate.

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 5,432
Rank Last Year: 7 (No Change)
Median Income: $66,094 (11th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.1% (6th highest)
Poverty Rate: 15.3% (9th highest)
More on Waipio Acres:  Data

Waipio Acres places as the seventh poorest city in Hawaii.

The city of over 5,432 ranks as having the 9th highest incidence of poverty in the state. However, it has a very low cost of living which helps to pay the bills each month.

Maili, HI

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 10,190
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 4)
Median Income: $71,806 (18th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 12.1% (5th highest)
Poverty Rate: 20.2% (6th highest)
More on Maili:  Data | Photos

Maili ranks as the eighth poorest city in Hawaii.

The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 5th highest in the state.

Wailea, HI

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 5,602
Rank Last Year: 20 (Up 11)
Median Income: $68,675 (13th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.9% (12th highest)
Poverty Rate: 14.0% (10th highest)
More on Wailea:  Data | Photos

Wailea couldn’t stay out of the top ten poorest places in Hawaii; it ranks number 9.

While the median income is the 13th lowest, there are a substantial number of people that live below the poverty line. Overall, Wailea ranks as having the 10th most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in Hawaii.

Wailuku, HI

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 16,995
Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 2)
Median Income: $69,250 (15th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 7.0% (8th highest)
Poverty Rate: 12.9% (13th highest)
More on Wailuku:  Data | Photos

And rounding out the top ten poorest cities in Hawaii is Wailuku.

The city of 16,995 people ranks in the bottom 20% for both median income and poverty rate in the Aloha State.

There You Have It – The Poorest Places In Hawaii For 2019

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: Mililani Mauka
    2nd Richest: East Honolulu
    3rd Richest: Ewa Gentry

For more Hawaii reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Poorest Places To Live In Hawaii

Rank City Population Poverty Rate
1 Makaha 8,832 30.1%
2 Hawaiian Beaches 5,302 20.2%
3 Waianae 13,636 27.0%
4 Hawaiian Paradise Park 11,564 22.2%
5 Nanakuli 11,757 16.2%
6 Hilo 45,703 19.0%
7 Waipio Acres 5,432 15.3%
8 Maili 10,190 20.2%
9 Wailea 5,602 14.0%
10 Wailuku 16,995 12.9%
11 Wahiawa 17,555 13.9%
12 Kapaa 10,505 13.7%
13 Waimea Cdp (Hawaii County) 12,064 11.7%
14 Kalaoa 11,107 10.5%
15 Kihei 22,220 8.4%
16 Holualoa 8,732 10.4%
17 Urban Honolulu 350,788 11.6%
18 Kailua Cdp (Hawaii County) 14,140 9.8%
19 Waipahu 41,715 11.8%
20 Kahului 30,706 9.8%
21 Wailua Homesteads 6,212 8.8%
22 Lahaina 13,223 8.6%
23 Laie 6,168 9.9%
24 Makawao 6,832 12.5%
25 Waimanalo 6,578 21.1%
26 Waikoloa Village 6,014 5.6%
27 Kula 7,520 11.1%
28 Ewa Beach 15,047 10.6%
29 Lihue 7,064 6.3%
30 Kalaheo 5,416 8.0%
31 Hanamaulu 5,386 5.6%
32 Makakilo 20,615 4.5%
33 Halawa 14,335 8.0%
34 Pukalani 8,340 7.8%
35 Kapolei 21,086 3.8%
36 Kaneohe 34,123 6.0%
37 Waimalu 13,158 5.2%
38 Waipio 11,607 7.3%
39 Mililani Town 28,343 5.3%
40 Ahuimanu 8,085 5.2%
41 Kailua Cdp (Honolulu County) 38,088 5.0%
42 Pearl City 46,259 4.6%
43 Ewa Villages 8,087 4.1%
44 Aiea 9,332 5.9%
45 Ocean Pointe 13,579 4.4%
46 Royal Kunia 14,396 3.8%
47 Waikele 7,446 3.0%
48 Ewa Gentry 24,181 2.8%
49 East Honolulu 47,868 3.3%
50 Mililani Mauka 20,393 2.3%


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