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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 4:11 p.m., Friday, June 17, 2005

Hawai'i jobless rate country's lowest once more

Associated Press

Hawai'i's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has dropped to 2.7, the lowest in the nation, with the state's top labor official crediting the islands' "vibrant economy."

The jobless rate for May is down from 2.9 percent in April. It compares with a national rate of 5.1 percent in May.

A year ago, Hawai'i's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 3.3 percent.

May was the third consecutive month that Hawai'i had the lowest seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in the nation, and the third consecutive month in which the rate was below 3 percent, according to the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.

"The percentage of unemployed in our labor force continues to remain near historically low levels, with a vibrant economy continuing to produce new jobs," said Nelson Befitel, director of the department.

The number of seasonally adjusted nonagricultural jobs remained stable during May, rising slightly by 400 to 594,700. Compared with April, all the seasonally adjusted industries posted either small gains or remained unchanged in May, the department said.

All islands, except Molokai, had an unemployment rate of under 3 percent in May, not seasonally adjusted, ranging from 2.1 percent on Maui Island to 2.9 percent on the Big Island. Molokai led the state at 6.9 percent.

The Labor Department also has begun providing a monthly status of the state's Unemployment Compensation Fund "to better inform the public."

The fund has a present balance of $418.6 million, and is projected to have a balance of $452 million by the end of the year.

The Lingle administration this year had urged the Legislature to lower the unemployment tax that employers must pay to the state. The proposal was rejected by the Democrat-controlled Legislature.