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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, September 21, 2006

Jobless rate falls again

By Sean Hao
Advertiser Staff Writer

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Hawai'i's jobless rate fell to 2.8 percent in August from 3.0 percent in July, enabling the state to reclaim the distinction of having the lowest jobless rate in the country.

Low unemployment has been a hallmark of Hawai'i's booming economy. Though good for workers, low unemployment makes it more difficult and costly for businesses to find and retain workers.

The tight labor market has boosted attendance at job fairs by employers looking to fill positions. Tuesday's Job Quest fair at Blaisdell Center drew a record 197 recruiters.

The August growth in nonfarm payroll jobs was greatest in the government sector, which added 500 positions, according to data released by the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations. The leisure and hospitality industry added 400 jobs, while education and health services picked up 300 positions. The construction sector saw a decline of 100 jobs.

"Hawai'i's working families continue to reap the benefits of a vibrant economy, long-term job growth and low unemployment," said Nelson B. Befitel, director of labor and industrial relations.

The total civilian labor force shrank to 650,400 in August from 652,0000 in July. The number of unemployed fell to 18,200 from 19,700 during the same period.

Hawai'i's jobless rate in August was well below the national rate of 4.7 percent. Hawai'i leapfrogged Louisiana to regain the title of lowest unemployment rate in August. Louisiana's jobless rate rose to 3.4 percent in August from 2.9 percent in July.

The labor force data and unemployment rate are derived from a telephone survey of households. The nonfarm payroll figures are derived from a separate survey of businesses. All data are adjusted to account for seasonal variations.

On a nonseasonally adjusted basis, the Big Island's jobless rate in August fell to 3.2 percent, versus 3.5 percent last year; Honolulu's rate was unchanged at 2.7 percent, compared to a year ago; Maui County also was at 2.7 percent, up from 2.8 percent a year earlier; and Kaua'i's rate rose to 3.0 percent from 2.6 percent a year ago.

Reach Sean Hao at shao@honoluluadvertiser.com.