Isle unemployment
bests mainland

The rate stays at 4.5 percent
for the second month, but fewer
people are in the work force

By Lyn Danninger

Hawaii's statewide unemployment rate fell to 4.5 percent in July from the same month a year ago and is lower than the national average, the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations said yesterday.

But economics professor Byron Gangnes, part of the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization, noted Hawaii's labor force, which totaled 602,400 last month, has fallen over the past year from 610,550.

"If you look at it compared to a year ago, the labor force is now smaller," Gangnes said. "It would appear more people are taking themselves out of the market," he said.

Gangnes said it is difficult to know the exact reasons for the shrinking labor force.

"Perhaps they got discouraged, or returned to school or are leaving the state to find a job. It could be any of these things, we just don't know. But compared to a year ago, the labor force is smaller," he said.

July's unemployment rate remained stable for the second month, compared with 4.7 percent unemployed in July 2001.

Nationally, unemployment also remained unchanged from the previous month, at 6 percent.

In July, Hawaii's labor force totaled 602,400 while 27,200 people were unemployed.

The largest drop in jobs in Hawaii occurred in sectors that experienced seasonal decline, such as public education, which contracted by 12,700 jobs and private education, which shed 300 jobs.

Similarly, job growth during the month was also attributed to seasonal factors, with local government adding 600 jobs due to the start of summer youth programs.

Private social services also expanded by 300 jobs due to summer hiring.

The hotel sector picked up 200 jobs during July, while the retail sector increased by 200 jobs as a whole. Restaurants and bars saw a decline of 200 jobs.

Other industries, such as construction, manufacturing, transportation and communication remained fairly stable during the month, according to the report.

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