Sunday, November 29, 2015         

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State's 5.3% jobless rate in November is lowest in 4 years

By Alan Yonan Jr.


Hawaii's unemployment rate fell to 5.3 percent in November from 5.5 percent in October on a seasonally adjusted basis, extending a string of sharp declines in the jobless rate that began this summer.

The jobless rate is now a full percentage point lower than it was in July, a move that reflects sharp gains in hiring across a variety of industries. The 5.3 percent reading was the lowest since November 2008, the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations reported Thursday.

The DLIR also reported that the number of nonagricultural payroll jobs grew by 4,600 in November from the previous month, and by 17,700 since November 2011.

After languishing in the 6 percent to 7 percent range since the recession ended more than three years ago, Hawaii's unemployment rate finally dipped below the 6 percent level in September. The job market is often the last piece of the economy to recover from a downturn because employers are reluctant to invest in new hires until they are convinced a economic recovery is firmly under way, economists say.

The number of unemployed workers in Hawaii fell to 34,050 in November, down 1,400 from October. The number of employed, meanwhile, rose by 2,600 to 609,600, according to the DLIR report.

Nationally, the unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent in November from 7.9 percent in October. The state and national numbers are adjusted for seasonal variations, such as hiring by retailers for the holiday shopping season.

On an unadjusted basis, the jobless rate in Hono­lulu County fell to 4.8 percent in November from 5 percent in October. The rate declined to 6.4 percent from 6.5 percent in Kauai County. It was unchanged at 5.7 percent in Maui County and 7.4 percent in Hawaii County.

The unemployment rate is derived largely from a telephone survey of households. The payroll data are gathered in a separate survey of businesses.

The biggest gain in payroll jobs was in the trade, transportation and utilities sector, which experienced an increase in 1,400 positions in November from October. Construction added 700 jobs, as did education and health services.

Compared with a year ago, trade, transportation and utilities gained 4,800 jobs, while leisure and hospitality added 4,000, according to the report. Construction companies reported adding 2,300 new hires compared with a year ago.

The labor report also included a broader measure of unemployment that includes discouraged workers and those working part time who would like to be in full-time jobs. Called the U-6 rate, it fell in Hawaii to 13.7 percent in the four quarters through September from 14.8 percent in the four quarters through June.

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