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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, April 3, 2010

Honolulu's 5.6% jobless rate lowest in Isles

 •  U.S. job market shows pulse

BY Greg Wiles
Advertiser Staff Writer

Honolulu had the state's lowest unemployment rate again in February.

State Department of Labor and Industrial Relations data shows O'ahu had a 5.6 percent unemployment rate during the month as 25,100 people went without work.

That was less than any other part of the state, with the next lowest rate on Lāna'i at 7.5 percent. Honolulu's rate has been lower than the rest of Hawai'i during the ongoing economic downturn.

"That would make sense, because they've had plantation closures on Kaua'i, layoffs at Maui Land and Pineapple and Molokai Ranch shut down," said Lawrence "Bill" Boyd, a labor economist the University of Hawai'i-West O'ahu.

"You've had proportionally very large layoffs in all those areas and nothing has come in to replace them."

The statewide unemployment rate was released last week showing 6.9 percent of Hawai'i's work force were without jobs during February. The seasonally adjusted rate was unchanged from January.

The state did not release the county rates but did post them on a Web site this week. The unemployment rates for counties are available on a not-seasonally adjusted basis and as such can't be accurately compared with the prior month.

But the data can be compared with the same month a year earlier. On this basis it showed all counties had higher unemployment except for Kaua'i and Moloka'i.

More specifically:

• Honolulu's rate rose 0.3 percentage points from 5.3 percent a year earlier.

• Hawai'i County had the biggest rise, coming in at 9.8 percent compared with 8.9 percent in February 2009.

• Kaua'i's rate was unchanged at 9.1 percent.

• Maui Island had 8.4 percent joblessness. That was up from 7.7 percent.

• There was mixed news for Moloka'i. It still had the highest rate in the state at 11.9 percent. But it was the only county where unemployment declined, from 12.1 percent a year earlier.

• Lāna'i's rate rose slightly to 7.5 percent from 7.4 percent.

The figures also show O'ahu had 25,100 unemployed people during the month out of the work force of 446,250.