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Hawaii unemployment rate drops to 2.8%

Hawaii’s unemployment rate fell to 2.8 percent in January, matching the state’s lowest level since July 2007, according to data released today by the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.

The seasonally adjusted rate dropped one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous month.

Hawaii’s lowest unemployment rate since January 1976 — the oldest available data — was 2.4 percent, achieved from October through December 2006 and May through September 1989.

The January number would have represented the sixth consecutive decline in Hawaii’s unemployment rate, but every January the state Labor Department revises its numbers to reflect updated population data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Those revised numbers show the Hawaii unemployment rate was 3.0 percent in July, August and September and 2.9 percent in October, November and December.

The U.S. Department of Labor is not scheduled to release January unemployment rates for all states until Monday, but based on those states’ most recent monthly numbers, Hawaii would have the second-lowest unemployment rate in the nation behind only New Hampshire at 2.7 percent.

The U.S. unemployment rate for January was 4.8 percent, up from 4.7 percent in December. That number was reported last month. The U.S. February unemployment rate, which was reported today, was 4.7 percent.

For Hawaii, nonfarm payroll jobs decreased by 2,000 in January to 649,900 from 651,900 the previous month.

In another measure of employment, the state’s labor force, which includes people who are employed and those who are unemployed but actively seeking work, increased to 693,550 from a revised 691,550 in December.

There were 673,850 people employed in January, up from a revised 671,700 the previous month. Those numbers include people self-employed. The number of unemployed fell to 19,700 from a revised 19,850.

Hawaii’s unemployment rate is derived largely from a monthly telephone survey of households, while a separate survey of businesses determines the number of nonfarm payroll jobs.

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