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Hawaii December 5.2 percent jobless rate lowest in 4 years

By Alan Yonan Jr.

LAST UPDATED: 3:09 p.m. HST, Jan 17, 2013

A gain of nearly 12,000 jobs in 2012 helped push Hawaii’s unemployment rate to 5.2 percent by year’s end, the lowest level in more than four years, the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations reported today.

The December jobless rate was down from 5.3 percent in November. It marked the fifth straight monthly decline in unemployment, which had been stubbornly high in the 6 percent to 7 percent range for much of the previous three years as Hawaii struggled to recover from an economic recession.

Hawaii’s December unemployment rate was the lowest since October 2008 when it was 5 percent, according to the DLIR. Hawaii’s December rate compared favorably with the national unemployment rate of 7.8 percent.

The statewide and national unemployment rates are adjusted for seasonal variations, such as hiring by retailers during the holiday shopping season. On an unadjusted basis the jobless rate fell in December from November in all of Hawaii’s counties.

It fell to 4.3 percent from 4.8 percent in November in Honolulu County, to 5.2 percent from 5.7 percent in Maui County, to 6 percent from 6.4 percent in Kauai County, and to 6.9 percent from 7.4 percent in Hawaii County.

The unemployment rate is derived largely from a telephone poll of households. A separate survey of businesses showed that although non-agricultural payroll jobs declined by 4,000 in December they were up 11,900 for the entire year. DLIR attributed the December decline mostly to the release of 1,900 temporary general election workers in the government sector.

On a year-over-year basis, the biggest job gains were in leisure and hospitality (4,700 positions), trade, transportation and utilities (4,400 positions) and construction (1,800 positions).

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