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Kauai Market Report Q4 2021

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Kauai Market

Steady job growth and the return of tourists spurred a modest Kauai economic recovery

Kauai’s economy faced several setbacks near the end of its second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, as COVID-19 variants Delta and Omicron delayed its full recovery. New infection cases of the Omicron variant surged, establishing new record daily highs. Kauai County’s positivity rate for COVID-19 rose to 18.9% at the end of January 2022, the highest among the four primary Hawaiian islands. While there is optimism that we are past the worst of the Omicron infections, there remains uncertainty as to whether another variant will emerge to take its place. Kauai’s businesses must remain resilient despite the potential for additional hurdles.

One of the broadest measures of the status of Kauai’s economy is its unemployment rate. Since the government-mandated economic closure in April 2020, Kauai’s unemployment rate, which spiked to 33% in April 2020, steadily improved during the past year. The 6.7% December 2021 jobless rate fell to its lowest level since the pandemic’s emergence.

Kauai’s employers were slow to rehire workers lost at the outset of the pandemic. Of the 8,000 positions cut from payrolls between March 2020 and April 2020, only 1,600 unemployed regained their jobs. Moreover, job counts for all major job categories remain below their March 2020 levels, and only the education sector replaced all the workers that were initially lost. Not surprisingly, challenging conditions persist for Kauai’s retail sector, which still maintains a 2,800 jobs deficit from March 2020 levels. Similarly, the hotel sector’s job count remains 1,600 below March 2020 levels.


Kauai Market

Kauai Market Report Q4 2021

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Related Experts

Mike Hamasu

Research & Consulting Director

Hawaii - Honolulu

Michael brings to Colliers Monroe Friedlander, Inc. over 25 years of marketing and marketing research experience. Michael has directed research efforts at commercial brokerages with a focus on providing information to assist in strategic decision making for real estate investors and brokerage clientele. This effort reported on nearly 600 million square feet of commercial/industrial properties in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Having been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Real Estate Forum and Commercial Property News as well as other regional publications, Michael has been recognized for his detailed analysis of the commercial real estate marketplace and has  become the recognized source for commercial real estate trend analysis and forecasts for Hawaii’s marketplace.

In addition to managing the primary and secondary research efforts in the collection of commercial office, retail and industrial market information and statistics, Michael established the company’s real estate consulting division. Utilizing market factors such as: vacancy rates, absorption, net effective rents, and sales comparables, this consulting unit is able to advise developers, investors, property owners, and tenants on current and projected market trends.

Whitney Cressman Limited — Commercial Real Estate Marketing Research Director
Directed brokerage, internal research efforts, and generated real estate consulting assignments at a busy boutique firm in San Francisco Bay area. Served as the principal liaison to press and media. Analyzed office, retail, and development site criteria for market demand and feasibility.

Cushman & Wakefield — Commercial Real Estate Research Services Manager
Oversaw the compilation of market analytics for 600 million square foot commercial and industrial markets throughout the San Francisco Bay area. Recognized nationally and regionally for innovative data management and analysis. Selected to serve on a national career development board for research services. Directed research staff of 12 in five Bay area markets.
Identified by brokers as a manager achieving service excellence.

• Development Feasibility Analysis
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• Broker Opinion of Value 
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Karen Birkett

Vice President | Hawaii

Hawaii - Honolulu

Karen M. Birkett is a member of the Office & Investment Services Divisions at Colliers International. Ms. Birkett services both landlords and tenants, which enables her to be very effective in all levels of lease negotiations, small and large.  Ms. Birkett represents various landlords such as Central Pacific Bank, Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Hawaiian Airlines, and is responsible for securing new tenants as well as renewing existing tenants for over 600,000 square feet of office space in the downtown and airport areas.  In addition, Ms. Birkett is the leasing agent for Na Lama Kukui, a unique building which attracts both retail and office users.


Along with the responsibility of representing various landlords, Ms. Birkett has extensive experience in servicing tenants, both small and large. Past and present clients include HMAA, Hawaiian Electric Company, Enterprise, Kiewit Construction, Yogi Kwong Engineering, Rider Levett Bucknall, Atlas Insurance, Kennedy Jenks, Limtiaco Group, Halekulani Corporation, Waikiki Health Centers, Alexander & Baldwin, Atlantis Submarine and Allstate Insurance, just to name a few. In addition, Ms. Birkett has represented various law firms, financial services groups, non profits, contractors/engineers and numerous alternative energy companies.


In addition to assisting lanldord and tenants Ms. Birkett has been involved in multiple acquisition/disposition projects in Honolulu including The Arcade Building, Airport Center, Ocean View Center, Haseko Center, Melim Building, 810 Richards, and countless more.


Prior to Ms. Birkett’s success in commercial real estate, she spent 5 years in the residential and commercial mortgage lending business.  Before her years in the mortgage business, Ms. Birkett spent many years in retail sales management, while at the same time owning and operating a variety of her own businesses, giving her the knowledge and understanding of what it takes to be a business owner.  Ms. Birkett’s experiences of owning various businesses, coupled with her many years of experience working for large corporations, has enabled her to understand the needs of all clients whether they are small business owners or large corporate clients.


Ms. Birkett has been awarded the honor of Outstanding Producer for 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 & 2017, and has been a member of the Colliers International Everest Club for 2017 and 2019.


Ms. Birkett is originally from Whidbey Island, Washington, but has lived in Hawaii for over 30 years.

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