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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Tuesday, October 23, 2001

Jobless figures steady last month

By John Duchemin
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawai'i's unemployment rate remained steady in September, but the official rate does not reflect the thousands of layoffs that have rippled throughout the state's economy since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The jobless rate stood at 4.5 percent in September, according to the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations. The rate was unchanged from August, and up from 4.2 percent in September 2000.

But in October, the rate is expected to rise significantly, said Naomi Harada, chief researcher in the state Labor Department's research and statistics office.

The September jobless estimate was based on a survey done the week of the 12th — the normal practice nationwide — and does not include the massive surge in unemployment claims in Hawai'i that has come in the following weeks.

Hawai'i jobless claims surged to more than five times their normal levels in the second half of September as tourism-related businesses including hotels, retailers and airlines cut thousands of employees.

More than 5,000 newly jobless people sought unemployment benefits in the week ended Sept. 29. Those numbers have fallen off slightly — 3,400 people filed new unemployment claims in the week ended Oct. 13.

It's too early to say how much the October rate will increase, but Harada said 6,000 new unemployment claims usually leads to an increase of one percentage point in the jobless rate.

The national jobless rate was 4.7 percent in September, up from 3.8 percent the same month last year.

In Honolulu, the rate was 4.0 percent last month, up from 3.7 percent the previous year. Maui County's rate also rose to 4.6 percent in September from 4.1 percent the year earlier.

Kaua'i unemployment fell to 6.5 percent from 6.7 percent in September 2000, while the Big Island was unchanged at 6.5 percent.