Unemployment in state
drops to 4.3 percent

The fourth straight monthly
decline leaves it 1.8 points
below the national average

By Russ Lynch

Hawaii's unemployment rate dipped to 4.3 percent last month, the fourth month in a row that the rate was lower than the previous month.

art The gap between Hawaii's jobless rate and the country's overall report has been widening since mid-November.

The state is now running 1.8 points lower than the national average of 6.1 percent for March.

The Hawaii rate was still higher than the 3.9 percent rate for March 2001, but showed improvement, according to the state Department of Labor & Industrial Relations.

Last month, there were 25,900 unemployed in the islands, with 574,500 in jobs, the state said.

The lowest jobless levels last month were on Lanai, at 3.3 percent; and Oahu, at 4 percent of the work force.

That was a worse situation for Oahu, which was at 3.4 percent in the year-earlier month, and an improvement for Lanai which a year earlier was at 3.4 percent.

The Big Island jobless rate dropped to 5.4 percent, from a year-earlier 5.7 percent, and Kauai's jobless rate of 5.7 percent was better than the 6.6 percent rate of March 2001. Maui rose to 4.5 percent from a year-earlier 3.5 percent, but Molokai dropped to 6.1 percent unemployed, still the highest rate in the state but less than half of the 13.4 percent of March 2001.

In March 2001, Hawaii's statewide jobless rate was 0.7 points lower than the national level.

Locally, from February of this year to March 3,800 jobs were added, mostly in education, services and retailing.

The University of Hawaii system was primarily responsible for the 1,000 jobs added in public education, bringing on a host of seasonal workers. In the retail industry, bars and restaurants added 600 jobs.

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