Wednesday, June 23, 1999

State’s jobless
rate at 5.5%

But the total job
count remains down

By Russ Lynch


Hawaii's unemployment rate improved last month, but the total job count -- a figure that economists say gives a truer picture of the condition of the economy -- was down, as it has been all year.

The statewide May unemployment rate was 5.5 percent, unchanged from April and down from 6.4 percent in May 1998, the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations said today.

There were 33,000 persons out of work in May, out of a civilian work force of 598,950. In May 1998, there were 38,150 unemployed, in a work force of 593,400. Those numbers were gathered from house-to-house surveys, in which households were asked how many residents are working and how many are not.

However, a more detailed survey of the number of jobs, resulting from a large sampling of employers, showed a less rosy picture.

Last month's job count was 532,600, down by 700 from the 533,300 total in May 1998.

Still, the separate unemployment survey showed improvement on all the major islands.

Oahu's jobless rate slipped to 4.8 percent from 5.4 percent in the year-earlier month. Unemployment on the Big Island was 8.6 percent last month, down from 10.7 percent.

Kauai reported a 7.5 percent jobless rate, down from 10.1 percent in May 1998, and Maui reported a 5.4 percent jobless rate, down from 6.8 percent.

Molokai still had the state's highest jobless rate, 14.1 percent, but that was an improvement from 16.4 percent a year earlier.

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