Hawaii Consumers Rank High on the Scrooge Index

Hawai`i is known for its high cost of living.  But its consumers are among the nation’s thriftiest. The 808 State ranked 44th among the 50 states and the District of Columbia in a survey of “states with the biggest spenders” by the economic Web site Wallet Hub. The survey looked at a number of different facets of consumer spending, as well as other factors such as the number of car per household and the amount of auto and credit card debt, and then adjusted for income level and cost of living in each state. Despite the state’s high priced gas and electricity, Hawaii consumers ranked 51st in personal spending on gasoline and “other energy goods”–perhaps because it’s tough to take a long car trip on any island but the Big Island.  Hawaii residents also ranked 51st in personal spending on health care and in the “All Other Consumption” category, 50th in average home size, and 49th in auto and credit card debt.

Hawaii does rank Number One, however in one unfortunate category: percentage of residents who spend more than they earn.

The top state for big-spending consumers, surprisingly, was relatively impoverished Mississippi, followed by Idaho, New Mexico, Alabama and Utah. Total consumer debt as of June, noted Wallet Hub, stood at $11.63 trillion.

The raw figures tell a different story, however.  Before being adjusted for income and cost of living, Hawaii ranks in the middle of the pack, in a four-way tie with Louisiana, Rhode Island and New Mexico for 28th place.

Wallet Hub noted that a recent spate of good economic news had enhanced what economists call the “wealth effect”: consumers spend more when they perceive that they are making more money.  Perhaps, in Hawaii, the opposite is happening: the high cost of living here leaves us with less to spend and makes us more aware that we have to spend it wisely.

Hawaii’s adjusted rankings in various categories:

  • 43rd – Personal Expenditure on Food & Beverages
  • 51st – Personal Expenditure on Gasoline & Other Energy Goods
  • 26th – Personal Expenditure on Housing & Utilities
  • 51st – Personal Expenditure on Health Care
  • 51st – Personal Expenditure on All Other Consumption
  • 33rd – Number of Cars per Household
  • 49th – Auto & Credit Card Debt
  • 47th – Annual Consumer Savings Account Averages
  • 50th – Average Home Square Footage


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