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Friday, September 19, 2003



State unemployment
rises to 4.3%


Hawaii's seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate rose to 4.3 percent last month from 4.0 percent in July, state labor officials reported yesterday.


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Last month's jobless rate was up three-tenths of a point from August 2002, but Hawaii's work force has grown by 27,000 people since then, the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations said. Hawaii's total labor force last month was 607,800, up from 580,800 in the same month in 2002.

On a not-seasonally-adjusted basis, the state's jobless rate rose slightly to 4.4 percent last month from 4.3 percent in July. It also was up three-tenths of a point from August 2002.

The not-seasonally-adjusted number is more volatile than the adjusted number because it doesn't take into account seasonal fluctuations, such as the conclusion of the academic year, which results in a surge of new entrants into the labor force and also the temporary loss of jobs in public and private education.

"Looking back at where we were in terms of the job market in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attack in 2001, Hawaii's ability to continue to grow and sustain the expansion of our labor force is a testament to Hawaii's improving economy," Labor Department Director Nelson Befitel said.

Shortly following the terrorist attacks, Hawaii's unemployment rate rose to a high of a not-seasonally-adjusted 5.4 percent in November 2001 and a seasonally-adjusted 5.5 percent that same month. Then, Hawaii had a labor force of 596,450 with 43,400 unemployed.

Last month, total nonagriculture jobs dropped by 1,200 from July. Federal and state jobs each dropped by 300 jobs while the private sector experienced little change.

One area that showed growth was the restaurant industry, which added 300 jobs.

August's national seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 6.1 percent, down from 6.2 percent in July, but up from 5.8 percent in August 2002. On a not-seasonally-adjusted basis, the nation's jobless rate was 6 percent, down from 6.3 percent in July, but up from 5.7 percent in August 2002. Since October 2002, Hawaii's unemployment rate has been at least 1.5 percentage points lower than the national average, the department said.

Oahu's rate of unemployment last month was 4.0 percent, up from 3.8 percent in July and 3.7 percent in August of last year.

Hawaii County had the highest jobless rate in the state, 6.2 percent, but showed improvement from 6.7 percent in July. The rate was still higher than 5.7 percent in August 2002. Maui County's unemployment rate was at 4.7 percent and Kauai's rate stayed steady at 4.9 percent.

All the islands' jobless rates are released as not-seasonally-adjusted numbers.

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