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State jobless drops to 4.7% in May, lowest in nearly 5 years

By Alan Yonan Jr.

LAST UPDATED: 10:01 a.m. HST, Jun 20, 2013

Hawaii’s unemployment rate fell to 4.7 percent in May, its lowest level in nearly five years, as the state’s labor market continued to gain momentum, the state Department of Labor and Industrial relations reported today.

The May rate was down from 4.9 percent in April and market the lowest point in the jobless rate since 4.6 percent in September 2008 when the state was in the midst of an economic recession. The unemployment rate continued rising throughout the recession and peaked at 7.1 percent during the summer of 2009.

The May report also marked the first time this year that Hawaii’s labor force expanded when compared with the previous month, according to the report from the DLIR. The size of the workforce contracted in each of the first four months of 2013, indicating that some unemployed workers had become so discouraged that they gave up looking for work.

Hawaii’s labor force, which is a combination of employed workers and those who are unemployed but actively looking for work, totaled 646,350 in May, up 600  from April. The number of employed rose by 1,750 to 615,750, while those who were unemployed fell by 1,150 to 30,600.

The state and national unemployment numbers are adjusted for seasonal variations, such as teachers temporarily leaving the workforce for summer break.

County data are not seasonally adjusted. The DLIR reported that the rate in Honolulu County rose to 4 percent in May from 3.9 percent in April. The rate fell to 6.5 percent from 6.6 percent in Hawaii County, and to 5.3 percent from 5.6 percent in Kauai County. It was unchanged at 4.8 percent in Maui County.

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