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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 12:50 p.m., Friday, March 10, 2006

Hawai'i unemployment lowest in 15 years

Advertiser Staff

Hawai'i's unemployment rate fell to a 15-year low of 2.4 percent in January, the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations reported today.

That was down from 2.7 percent in December and 3 percent from the same month a year earlier. Hawai'i is the only state in the nation with an unemployment rate below 3 percent.  

The last time Hawai'i's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was as low as 2.4 percent was January 1991. Nationally, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate went from 4.9 percent in December to 4.7 percent in January.  

Abercrombie opposes Wal-Mart's bid to open bank in Utah

U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie was one of more than 30 members of Congress that urged regulators to reject Wal-Mart Store Inc.'s plan to open an industrial bank.

In a March 8 letter to the acting chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the members of Congress said Wal-Mart's bank could dominate lending and hurt small businesses. The representatives also said they doubt Wal-Mart would abide by U.S. banking rules.

In July, Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, applied to open an industrial bank in Utah to process more than 1.6 million debit, credit and electronic-check transactions rather than pay third parties to handle them. Community bankers and lawmakers have said they are concerned Wal-Mart will eventually open retail branches. The company has said it doesn't intend to open branches.

Matson to raise fuel surcharge April 2

Matson Navigation Company, Inc. said today it will raise its fuel surcharge in its Hawai'i and Guam/Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands services to 18.5 percent from 15 percent, effective April 2.

Matson evaluates fuel costs on a quarterly basis, with the fuel surcharge adjusted accordingly, up or down. The review process involves analysis of actual quarterly bunker fuel prices, as well as market projections for the coming quarter.

In the past three months, bunker fuel prices have risen 17 percent, with the fuel surcharge recovering only a portion of that increase, Matson said. In the past 12 months, Matson's fuel costs have risen 71 percent, the company said.

Matson is a wholly owned subsidiary of Alexander & Baldwin, Inc. of Honolulu.