Tuesday, October 26, 1999

falls to 5.5%

One full point lower than
year-ago numbers

By Russ Lynch


Hawaii's unemployment rate of 5.5 percent in September was a full point lower than September 1998's 6.5 percent level as all islands except Molokai and Lanai improved.

The number of jobs grew to 562,800 last month, an increase of 7,150, Artor 1.3 percent, from 555,650 in September 1998, according to monthly figures released yesterday by the state Department of Labor & Industrial Relations.

There were 32,950 persons out of work last month in Hawaii, a decline of 5,450, or 14.2 percent, from 38,400 a year ago, according to the department.

The national unemployment rate -- which, unlike the Hawaii number, is seasonally adusted -- was 4.1 percent in September.

Oahu, still the best place in the state to find jobs, had a 4.8 percent jobless rate last month, down from 5.8 percent in September 1998. The Big Island's rate was 8.8 percent last month, an improvement from 9.3 percent a year earlier. Maui was at 5.3 percent, down from 6.3 percent, while Kauai's jobless rate was 7.2 percent, down from 9.1 percent.

Molokai's jobless rate, already the highest in the state, rose slightly to 17.6 percent, from 17.4 percent in September 1998, while Lanai's September rate was 5.6 percent, up a point from 4.6 percent.

September had statewide job gains over August in some industries and cuts in others. The result was a statewide loss of 4,150 jobs, or 0.7 percent, from 566,950 jobs in August.

Retailing gained 500 jobs from the previous month due largely to hirings at the new Home Depot store in Iwilei. Construction jobs in September were up 200.

Local government employment was down by 1,600 jobs from August after the normal seasonal cutoff of summer fun programs in the counties. Business services had 400 fewer jobs in September than in August, because of a slowdown at temporary-help agencies.

The statewide unemployment rate for August was 5.6 percent.

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