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Hawaii has nation’s highest ‘insured unemployment rate’

Hawaii had the country’s highest “insured unemployment rate” in the nation for the week that ended Aug. 22, the U.S. Department of Labor announced Thursday.

Unlike the more frequently reported seasonally adjusted unemployment rate, the insured unemployment rate represents the number of people receiving unemployment insurance as a percentage of the labor force, according to a blog post on the St. Louis Fed on the Economy website.

Hawaii’s insured unemployment rate of 20.3% for the week ending Aug. 22 was followed by Puerto Rico at 16.7% and Nevada at 16%, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Writing in the St. Louis Fed on the Economy blog, Vice President and economist Stephen Williamson called the insured unemployment rate “a useful measure” because it tracks people who actually file unemployment claims.

By raw numbers, the states with the largest increases in initial unemployment claims for the week that ended Aug. 29 were California (22,647), Texas (4,521), Louisiana (3,662), Tennessee (1,288) and Missouri (1,226). The largest decreases were in Florida (6,057), Georgia (5,485), Pennsylvania (2,627), Wisconsin (1,422) and Michigan (1,159), according to the Labor Department.

Across the country, 48 states reported that 14.6 million people claimed Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits, and 49 states reported that 1.4 million people claimed Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits for the week ending Aug. 22, according to the Labor Department.

Hawaii’s more traditional measurement of the local labor market — known as the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate — was 13.1% in July, down from 13.4% in June, the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations announced in August.

Hawaii’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for July meant that 551,750 people were employed across the state compared with 83,250 who were unemployed, for a total seasonally adjusted labor force of 635,000.

By comparison, the overall U.S. seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 10.2% in July, down from 11.1% in June.

Also Thursday, the state Labor Department said it has paid out $3.08 billion in unemployment benefits since the March 1 onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In that time, 282,897 claims have been filed statewide, and 174,233 claims have been paid, DLIR said.

TOP 10

States and territories with highest insured unemployment rates for week ending Aug. 22:

>> Hawaii 20.3%

>> Puerto Rico 16.7%

>> Nevada 16%

>> New York 14.9%

>> California 14.8%

>> Connecticut 14.7%

>> Louisiana 13.2%

>> Virgin Islands 12.6%

>> Georgia 12.2%

>> District of Columbia 11.5%

Source: U.S. Department of Labor

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