Tourism-related retail businesses were hit with the biggest job losses during March as they shed more than 300 jobs. The 3.4 percent unemployment rate rose from February, but is lower than March 2002.

Jobless rate low

Isle unemployment stays
under the rate a year ago

Hawaii's unemployment rate rose by 0.4 percentage points in March, up from the 3.0 percent rate recorded in February, the lowest figure on record with the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations since the early 1990s.

The rate is still well below Hawaii's 4.3 percent unemployment in March 2002. The numbers are not adjusted for seasonal variations.

Nationally, the unemployment rate was 6.2 percent in March, up slightly from 6.1 percent a year earlier.


Job losses in the state during March came mostly from the tourism retail sector, which shed 300 jobs, said DLIR spokesman James Hardway. In other visitor industry-related job losses, 50 air transportation-related jobs were also lost.

On the positive side, the total number of non-agricultural jobs in the state increased by 2,100 for a total of 566,900 jobs statewide. There were increases in food services, accommodations and transportation/warehousing. The food service industry added 400 jobs.

State education jobs increased by 900, mostly due to the addition of casual hires and student workers in the University of Hawaii system.

In March, Hawaii's labor force comprised 572,300 employed and 19,900 unemployed.

State DLIR Director Nelson Befitel said that despite losses in some sectors, Hawaii's unemployment rate remains significantly below the national average.

"It is especially encouraging that we have not sustained any significant job loss in visitor-related industries," he said.

Jobs in visitor-related industries saw a small amount of growth last month.


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