Thursday, December 6, 2001

Jobless rate in isles
hits 2-year high

By Lyn Danninger

Hawaii's unemployment rate inched slightly ahead of the national average in October, to the highest level in two years.

The latest figures from the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations show Hawaii was 0.2 percentage points ahead of the national average of 5 percent.

The state's 5.2 percent unemployment in October increased 0.7 percent from September.

The national average rose from September's 4.7 percent to 5 percent unemployed in October, and up from 3.6 percent a year earlier.

Statewide, the island of Lanai had the biggest jump in unemployment, recording 10.8 percent unemployed for October, up from September's 6 percent.

But it was the island of Molokai which showed the biggest improvement, especially when compared to the previous year's 15.5 percent unemployed recorded in October 2000.

By September this year, Molokai's unemployment rate had dropped to 10.7 percent and by October, the number had dropped to 8.8 percent, almost half of the previous year.

Unsurprisingly, the state's overall unemployment rate was up 1.2 percentage points from October 2000. In October this year, more than 13,000 Hawaii residents filed claims for unemployment benefits, as the tourism industry continued to suffer the fallout of the Sept. 11 attacks.

By Tuesday, more than 36,000 Hawaii residents had filed unemployment claims since Sept. 11.

Historically, the unemployment rate improves between September and October, the department said, though the tourism downturn reversed the trend. Hotels cut 2,100 jobs during October, with all counties reporting a drop. Retailers cut an additional 1,600 jobs and transportation eliminated 1,700 jobs.

The only net gain for the month were reported by the state, which added 3,500 jobs in the Department of Education and University of Hawaii.

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