Poorest Cities In Hawaii For 2021

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 2021. This is our seventh time ranking the poorest places in Hawaii.

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 59 places in Hawaii with more than 5,000 people.

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.

What's the poorst city in Hawaii? According to the facts, Hawaiian Ocean View is the poorest place in Hawaii for 2021.

Rich people more your cup of tea? Feel free to check out the best 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:

The 10 Poorest Cities In Hawaii For 2021

1. Hawaiian Ocean View

Hawaiian Ocean View, HI

Source: Wikipedia
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 5,011
Rank Last Year: -
Median Income: $15,654 (lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 22.7% (highest)
Poverty Rate: 55.2% (highest)
More on Hawaiian Ocean View:  Data | Photos

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

The city of 5,011 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.

2. Hawaiian Beaches

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 5,320
Rank Last Year: -
Median Income: $42,882 (2nd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 18.5% (2nd highest)
Poverty Rate: 18.8% (4th highest)
More on Hawaiian Beaches:  Data | Photos

The second poorest city in Hawaii is Hawaiian Beaches.

The city ranks as having the 4th highest incidence of poverty and 2nd lowest median household income. However, the unemployment rate 'only' ranks as the 2nd highest in the Aloha State.

3. Makaha

Makaha, HI

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 8,404
Rank Last Year: 1 (Down 2)
Median Income: $50,992 (3rd lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 12.7% (4th highest)
Poverty Rate: 31.0% (2nd highest)
More on Makaha:  Data | Photos

Placing as the third poorest city, Makaha's median income ranks as the 3rd 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 31.003735389806003% 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.

4. Waianae

Waianae, HI

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 13,609
Rank Last Year: 2 (Down 2)
Median Income: $62,172 (8th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 13.5% (3rd highest)
Poverty Rate: 24.4% (3rd highest)
More on Waianae:  Data | Photos

Waianae ranks as the fourth poorest place in Hawaii.

The town ranks as having the 8th 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.

5. Nanakuli

Nanakuli, HI

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 11,461
Rank Last Year: 3 (Down 2)
Median Income: $75,031 (16th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 11.9% (6th highest)
Poverty Rate: 15.3% (8th highest)
More on Nanakuli:  Data | Photos

The fifth poorest city in Hawaii is Nanakuli.

The city ranks as having the 16th 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.

6. Hilo

Hilo, HI

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 45,056
Rank Last Year: 4 (Down 2)
Median Income: $63,283 (9th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 5.8% (15th highest)
Poverty Rate: 17.1% (6th highest)
More on Hilo:  Data | Photos

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

It ranks as having the 6th highest incidence of poverty and the 15th highest unemployment rate.

7. Wahiawa

Wahiawa, HI

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 17,122
Rank Last Year: 6 (Down 1)
Median Income: $62,092 (7th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 4.5% (2highest)
Poverty Rate: 16.1% (7th highest)
More on Wahiawa:  Data | Photos

Wahiawa places as the seventh poorest city in Hawaii.

The city of over 17,122 ranks as having the 7th highest incidence of poverty in the state. However, it has a very low cost of living which helps to pay the bills each month.

8. Wailuku

Wailuku, HI

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 17,708
Rank Last Year: 5 (Down 3)
Median Income: $73,576 (13th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 6.0% (14th highest)
Poverty Rate: 10.9% (12th highest)
More on Wailuku:  Data | Photos

Wailuku ranks as the eighth poorest city in Hawaii.

The big issue for the town is the unemployment rate which ranks as the 14th highest in the state.

9. Maili

Maili, HI

Overall SnackAbility


Population: 11,437
Rank Last Year: 9 (No Change)
Median Income: $88,395 (34th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 8.7% (8th highest)
Poverty Rate: 18.1% (5th highest)
More on Maili:  Data | Photos

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

While the median income is the 34th lowest, there are a substantial number of people that live below the poverty line. Overall, Maili ranks as having the 5th most people living in poverty of all the places we analyzed in Hawaii.

10. Schofield Barracks

Schofield Barracks, HI

Source: Public domain
Overall SnackAbility


Population: 19,499
Rank Last Year: 12 (Up 2)
Median Income: $60,966 (6th lowest)
Unemployment Rate: 12.7% (5th highest)
Poverty Rate: 5.9% (38th highest)
More on Schofield Barracks:  Data | Photos

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

The city of 19,499 people ranks in the bottom 20% for both median income and poverty rate in the Aloha State.

How We Determined The Poorest Places In Hawaii for 2021

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 2015-2019 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 59 places with more than 5,000 people in Hawaii, we ranked each place from 1 to 59 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, Hawaiian Ocean View, crowned the "Poorest Place In Hawaii For 2021". You can download the data here.

There You Have It - The Poorest Places In Hawaii For 2021

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: Waikele

For more Hawaii reading, check out:

Detailed List Of The Poorest Places To Live In Hawaii

Rank City Population Poverty Rate
1 Hawaiian Ocean View 5,011 55.2%
2 Hawaiian Beaches 5,320 18.8%
3 Makaha 8,404 31.0%
4 Waianae 13,609 24.4%
5 Nanakuli 11,461 15.3%
6 Hilo 45,056 17.1%
7 Wahiawa 17,122 16.1%
8 Wailuku 17,708 10.9%
9 Maili 11,437 18.1%
10 Schofield Barracks 19,499 5.9%
11 Kaneohe Station 11,289 5.9%
12 Urban Honolulu 348,985 10.6%
13 Kahaluu-Keauhou 5,291 10.5%
14 Waipahu 39,469 10.6%
15 Lahaina 12,776 9.8%
16 Hawaiian Paradise Park 11,202 9.9%
17 Wailea 6,218 10.3%
18 Pukalani 7,695 11.4%
19 Kalaheo 5,487 13.0%
20 Waikoloa Village 6,549 9.2%
21 Kailua Cdp (Hawaii County) 15,231 10.1%
22 Waipio Acres 5,451 5.7%
23 Laie 5,704 9.4%
24 Kihei 22,402 8.0%
25 Waimea Cdp (Hawaii County) 11,908 10.3%
26 Hanamaulu 5,150 6.5%
27 Kahului 31,336 8.6%
28 Kapaa 10,580 10.4%
29 Kula 7,621 10.2%
30 Hickam Housing 9,387 1.8%
31 Haiku-Pauwela 8,987 8.8%
32 Holualoa 9,688 7.4%
33 Kalaoa 11,729 8.4%
34 Wailua Homesteads 6,117 4.9%
35 Napili-Honokowai 6,739 6.9%
36 Waimanalo 5,538 12.7%
37 Makawao 7,341 10.0%
38 Waimalu 14,043 5.3%
39 Ewa Beach 14,479 8.0%
40 Ewa Villages 6,585 5.4%
41 Kapolei 21,674 4.8%
42 Halawa 14,453 6.1%
43 Waihee-Waiehu 9,319 7.6%
44 Makakilo 19,775 4.5%
45 Lihue 7,267 4.2%
46 Waipio 11,469 6.6%
47 Kailua Cdp (Honolulu County) 37,586 5.7%
48 Kaneohe 33,841 5.1%
49 Aiea 9,638 4.2%
50 Mililani Town 27,562 4.7%
51 Ocean Pointe 14,989 5.1%
52 Pearl City 45,605 3.9%
53 Royal Kunia 14,565 2.9%
54 Ewa Gentry 25,641 3.7%
55 Ahuimanu 8,023 3.7%
56 West Loch Estate 6,139 2.9%
57 Waikele 7,442 3.6%
58 East Honolulu 47,540 3.3%
59 Mililani Mauka 20,090 2.3%

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