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Hawaii unemployment rate rises to 2.3 percent

Hawaii’s unemployment rate rose in October for the second straight month to a 16-month high of 2.3 percent as the labor force slightly contracted.

The jobless rate, still the lowest in the nation, has started to move up since reaching a Hawaii-record low of 2 percent in April and May.

“This may indicate that our economy has entered into a slow growth path,” Eugene Tian, chief economist for the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, said today. “The 2.3 percent unemployment rate is still very low compared with the (state) average of the last 42 years (1976-2018) at 4.9 percent.”

The last time Hawaii’s unemployment rate reached 2.3 percent was in July 2017. The rate had been at 2.1 percent for June, July and August of this year before ticking up to 2.2 percent in September.

The number of people in the labor force, which includes those who are employed, those who are unemployed but actively seeking work and those who are self-employed, slipped in October to 686,100 from 686,850 the previous month, according to data released today by the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations. Those employed dropped to 670,400 from 671,800 while those unemployed rose to 15,750 from 15,050.

Nonfarm payroll jobs, which includes people who might hold multiple positions, increased by 300 in October from the previous month led by the addition of 400 construction jobs.

The labor force data are compiled from a telephone survey of households, while a separate mail survey of employers calculates the nonfarm payroll jobs.

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