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Big Island unemployment rate holds steady in February

March 27, 2014 - 12:08pm

The Big Island’s 6.1 percent unemployment rate held steady in February, according to the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.

Hawaii County’s unemployment rate remained at 6.1 percent in February, unchanged from 6.1 percent in January, but up from 5.9 percent in December 2013, according to the department, which noted unemployment in February 2013 at 7 percent. The island continues to hold the highest unemployment rate among Hawaii’s four counties.

Statewide, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate also held steady at 4.6 percent in February, unchanged from 4.6 percent in January and down slightly from 4.7 percent in December, according to the department. Unemployment statewide in February 2013 was 4.9 percent.

Around the state, Honolulu City and County’s unemployment rate in February was 4.1; Maui County’s rate was 5.1 percent; and Kauai County’s rate was 5.6 percent, according to the department.

Nationwide, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 6.7 percent in February, up from 6.6 percent in January, according to the department. The rate is down from 7.7 percent in February 2013.

The number of unemployed people nationwide increased from 10.2 million in January to 10.5 million in February, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In Hawaii, some 29,900 people remained unemployed and 626,400 held jobs in February, according to the department. That’s an improvement from 30,250 people who were unemployed and 625,650 who held jobs in January.

Hawaii Island’s work force in February, the most recent data available, consisted of 81,500 people of whom 76,500 held jobs, according to preliminary statistics kept by the state.

The greatest increase in the number of jobs added with 1,300 new positions was seen in the government sector, according to the state, which attributed the increase to hiring within the University of Hawaii system. The financial activities sector saw an increase of 300 jobs while the construction sector saw 100 positions added.

The greatest decreases in employment were recorded in the leisure and hospitality sector, which saw 1,800 jobs cut, and the professional and business services sector, which saw 1,100 positions eliminated, according to the state. The other services sector saw a decrease of 1,000 positions while both manufacturing and the trade, transportation and utilities sectors each saw 100 positions cut.

The state said the drop in employment in the professional and business services sector was attributed to less hiring at professional employer organization and temporary help services. The leisure and hospitality sector went down as the visitor industry tempered.