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Wednesday, October 25, 2000

Isle jobless rate
drops to 4.5%

It declines from year-ago
levels for the 20th straight
month as the eonomy
keeps improving

By Russ Lynch

For the 20th month in a row, Hawaii's unemployment rate last month was lower than the year-earlier level.

Art The statewide September jobless rate was 4.5 percent, nearly a full percentage point lower than the September 1999 level of 5.4 percent, continuing an improvement that started in February 1999.

Last month there were 26,000 out of work, 18.9 percent fewer than the 32,050 unemployed in September 1999, according to the monthly figures released yesterday by the state Department of Labor & Industrial Relations.

The number of those who were employed grew 1.7 percent to 568,100 last month, from 558,650 in the previous September, marking a 17-month streak of job growth, which economists say is a key indicator of an improving economy.

Still, Hawaii's jobless rate remained higher than the national average, which was 3.8 percent last month, down from 4.1 percent in September 1999. And Hawaii's 4.5 percent unemployment rate for last month was unchanged from August.

All islands except Molokai showed a year-over-year improvement in the September jobless rate, with Maui and the Big Island leading the way.

Maui's September level of 3.6 percent was a 1.6-point drop from an unemployment rate of 5.2 percent in September 1999. The Big Island's 6.9 percent rate last month was a 1.5-point improvement from 8.4 percent a year earlier.

Oahu was at 3.9 percent level last month, down from 4.8 percent in September 1999. Kauai's rate was 7 percent last month, down from a year-earlier 7.2 percent. Lanai showed a drop to 3.9 percent from 5.4 percent. Molokai's September jobless rate was 20.8 percent, up 3.7 percentage points from a year-earlier 17.1 percent.

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