March rains dampened employment
Hawaii's unemployment rate inched up for the month, but still was the the nation's lowest
Hawaii's prolonged stretch of rainy weather boosted the unemployment rate last month, but not enough to keep the state from having lowest rate in the nation.
Hawaii's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for March was 2.6 percent, up from 2.5 percent in February, the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations said yesterday. And the March rate was actually down from 2.9 percent in March 2005.
The U.S. unemployment rate was 4.7 percent in March, marking the 25th consecutive month that Hawaii's rate has been lower than the national rate by more than two percentage points, officials said.
"The tick up in the unemployment rate largely had to do with the fact that we had construction workers who basically had to file because of the rain and the stormy weather," said James Hardway, assistant to the director for the department. "When we have inclement weather like that, construction workers are not likely to work on the site. The majority that filed came from that industry."
That said, Hawaii's jobless rate for March was still below Wyoming, which had the second-lowest rate in the nation, 2.9 percent.
The number of jobs in Hawaii continued to grow in March despite the loss of 500 construction jobs in the state due to weather, the department said. Job losses in government (300) and education and health services (200) were also recorded from February, department officials said.
Overall nonagricultural jobs increased by 1,000, or 0.2 percent, to 616,000, with notable gains posted in trade, transportation and utilities (500) and leisure and hospitality (300), officials said.
Star-Bulletin reporter David Segal and the Associated Press contributed to this report.