State unemployment rate dips to near-10-year low of 2.7%
June 26, 2017 | 76° | Check Traffic

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State unemployment rate dips to near-10-year low of 2.7%

Hawaii’s unemployment rate resumed its descent in March and fell to 2.7 percent, its lowest level in nearly 10 years.

The seasonally adjusted number, which in February was tied for the second lowest in the nation, had been at 2.8 percent for the previous two months, according to data released today by the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations. The last time Hawaii’s unemployment rate was at 2.7 percent was in June 2007.

Since its recent peak of 7.3 percent in 2009 during the recession, the jobless rate has been steadily falling. It fell below 4 percent in March 2015 and dipped below 3 percent this past October.

Hawaii’s lowest unemployment rate since January 1976 — the oldest available data — was 2.4 percent, achieved from October through December 2006 and May through September 1989. Hawaii’s March ranking compared to other states won’t be available until today when the U.S. Department of Labor issues its full report.

The state’s labor force, which includes people who are employed and those who are unemployed but actively seeking work, increased to a record 696,800 last month from the previous high of 695,100 in February.

There were a record 677,700 people employed in March, up from the previous high of 675,500 the previous month. Those numbers include people who are self-employed. The number of unemployed fell to 19,100 from 19,600.

Hawaii’s unemployment rate is derived largely from a monthly telephone survey of households, while a separate survey of businesses determines the number of nonfarm payroll jobs.

The state’s nonfarm payroll jobs, which include people who might hold multiple jobs, slipped by 200 in March to 650,100. The trade, transportation and utilities sector had the largest job loss at 400 jobs while the biggest job increase was in leisure and hospitality with 1,100 more workers. Construction, which has been a bellwether industry for the past couple of years, saw its job count fall by 200. Over the past year, total nonfarm jobs increased by 4,500, or 0.7 percent.

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