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Hawaii jobless rate tumbles to 5.7%

Hawaii’s unemployment rate dropped sharply in December to a 21-month low of 5.7% as the state’s economy continued making significant strides in recovering from the nearly 2-year-old pandemic.

The state’s seasonally adjusted jobless rate, which during the early stages of the pandemic spiked to a record 21.9%, declined for the 11th straight month and dropped below 6% for the first time since hitting 2.1% in March 2020 when COVID-19 was in its infancy, according to data released today by the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. The rate in November was 6.0%.

“The declining unemployment rate indicates that Hawaii labor market conditions continue to improve due to the opening of tourism and increased consumption of local residents,” DBEDT chief economist Eugene Tian said in an email. “While the unemployment rate in the nation has already reached the natural unemployment rate (4.5%), Hawaii’s unemployment rate is still significantly higher than the natural rate (3.0%).”

Tian said he expect the tourism recovery to accelerate in the second quarter and lead to the unemployment rate in Hawaii falling to about 5% for the year.

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