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Honolulu's jobless rate ties for 13th lowest in U.S.

Oahu unemployment rose slightly in May but remains relatively tame, a report shows

By Alan Yonan Jr.

LAST UPDATED: 2:26 p.m. HST, Aug 5, 2011

Honolulu's unemployment rate edged up to 4.9 percent in May from 4.6 percent in April but it was still among the lowest out of nearly 400 metropolitan areas surveyed, according to a report released today.

Honolulu tied for the 13th lowest jobless rate with four other metro areas: Charlottesville, Va.; Oklahoma City, Okla.; Rapid City, S.D.; and Rochester, N.H., the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.

Bismarck, N.D., claimed the nation's lowest unemployment rate in May at 2.9 percent, while Yuma, Ariz., topped the list at 27.9 percent.

The unemployment rate increased in 210 metro areas in May, the BLS said. It fell in 131 cities and remained unchanged in 37. That's a sharp reversal from April, when unemployment rates dropped in more than 90 percent of metro areas. Metropolitan area unemployment data are not adjusted for seasonal variations, such as an increase in younger job seekers at the end of the school year that can inflate the jobless rate.

Honolulu's May jobless rate was the lowest among the state's counties. The unemployment rates were 7.2 percent in Maui County, 6.2 percent in Kauai County and 9.2 percent in Hawaii County.

The state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations reported earlier this month that the statewide unemployment rate fell to 6 percent in May from 6.1 percent in April on a seasonally adjusted basis. Nationwide, the unemployment rate ticked up in May to 9.1 percent.

The unemployment rate is derived from a telephone survey of households. A separate survey of businesses showed that the number of payroll jobs in Honolulu fell to 441,700 in May from 442,200 in April.

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