How Does Hawaii Compare to Other States?

Date: April 02, 2024

Latest report card is of little surprise given our leading industry

Last month, WalletHub, a personal finance company, ranked Hawaii 38th in its Most & Least Innovative States (2024) report. But how business friendly is it in other categories?

A look at other media and think-tank producers of similar studies shows Hawaii not getting very high marks in any of them. So, what does it mean? “None of Hawaii’s rankings in any of the reports is surprising, given our lack of a historic industrial base, absence of a high-tech hub, or any agricultural might,” said Michael Iosua, Hawaii state director for the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). “We are a tourism-based economy and many of the variables used by these reports don’t make for an easy contour for any conclusion to be drawn. Still, they’re worth a scan for any idea state lawmakers want to pursue.”

Below is a sample of where Hawaii ranks in other reports:

NFIB does not rank states. Instead, it ranks environments and conditions for small businesses as a whole across the nation. Its most prestigious report, called the gold standard measurement of the Main Street economy, is the monthly Small Business Economic Trends (SBET) report, also known as the Optimism Index.

“The SBET is one of the few archival data sets on small businesses, particularly when research questions address business operations rather than opinions,” according to this one-page history of SBET. “Today, it’s the largest, longest-running data set on small business economic conditions available.”

All of NFIB’s research, such as the SBET, monthly Jobs Report, quadrennial Small Business Problems & Priorities, and other studies can be found at

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