Hawaii jobless at 10-year high


POSTED: Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate hit 5.5 percent in December — matching a 10-year high set in December 1998 — and jumped up from November's revised jobless rate of 5 percent. ;

National unemployment rose to 7.2 percent in December from a revised 6.8 percent in November.

Locally, total seasonally adjusted nonagricultural jobs decreased by 7,700 to 612,600 in December, according to data released today by the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.

Hawaii's government sector posted the largest losses, at 4,900. State government's release of poll workers and election officials, hired temporarily, made up the largest portion of the losses.

The trade, transportation and utilities group lost the most private sector jobs, 1,100, mostly in ground transportation of passengers for tourism-related activities and general freight trucking. Retail employment shed 400 jobs.

Some 900 construction jobs were lost in December, in residential building as well as among site-preparation and finishing contractors. The Labor Department noted that some of the reduction was due to project completion and fewer new contract activities.

The tourism sector reported the only growth, following three consecutive months of decline. Accommodation and food services jobs increased by 200, largely due to the reopening of the newly renovated Mauna Kea Beach Hotel on the Big Island.