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Honolulu’s jobless rate drops again as tourism improves

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Honolulu’s unemployment rate fell to 5.2 percent in May – one of the lowest rates in the nation – as employers boosted payrolls amid signs economic growth is taking hold.

WHERE THEY RANK

TOP 5
1. Bismark, N.D. 3.1%
2. Fargo, N.D. 3.5%
3. Grand Forks, N.D. 3.8%
4. Lincoln, Neb. 4.2%
5. Iowa City, Iowa 4.4%
13. Honolulu 5.2%

BOTTOM 5
368. Modesto, Calif. 17.3%
369. Merced, Calif. 18.1%
370. Yuba City, Calif. 19.3%
371. Yuma, Ariz. 27.2%
372. El Centro, Calif. 27.5%

The improvement from 5.3 percent in April was enough to tie Hawaii for the 13th-lowest jobless rate out of 372 metropolitan areas surveyed, according to a federal report released yesterday.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics also reported that the 4,400 jobs added in Honolulu during May was second only to the greater Washington, D.C., area.

Honolulu’s economic picture has been brightening in recent months as the state’s main industry, tourism, continues to rebound. Visitor arrivals rose in May for the sixth consecutive month, while the amount they spent increased for the third month in a row.

Honolulu’s unemployment rate was significantly lower than the neighbor islands, where unemployment rates were 9.7 percent in Hawaii County, 8.5 percent in Kauai County and 8.2 percent in Maui County.

Honolulu tied with Portsmouth, N.H.; Ithaca, N.Y.; and Billings, Mont., for the 13th spot on the national list.

Bismark, N.D., had the lowest jobless rate at 3.1 percent, while El Centro, Calif., had the highest rate at 27.5 percent.

Hawaii’s statewide unemployment rate has been trending downward, hitting 6.6 percent in May after peaking at 7 percent last summer.

The number of people filing first-time claims for unemployment benefits also has eased over the past year, but remains above 2,000 filings per week. The last time weekly claims were below 2,000 per week was in the fall of 2008.

Nationally, the BLS report showed that the jobless rate dropped in 237 of 382 areas in May from April. It rose in 118 areas and was flat in 27.

The figures aren’t adjusted to account for seasonal trends, such as recent high school and college graduates entering the job market.

 

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