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Big Island unemployment rate up in January

Updated: 
March 18, 2014 - 7:12pm

The Big Island’s unemployment rate increased in January while the state’s rate dropped slightly, according to the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.

Hawaii County’s unemployment rate increased to 6.1 percent in January, up from 5.9 percent in December, according to the department, which noted unemployment in January 2013 at 7.2 percent. The island continues, as it has historically done, to hold the highest unemployment rate among Hawaii’s four counties.

Statewide, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased to 4.6 percent in January, down from 4.7 percent in December, according to the department. Unemployment statewide in January 2013 was 4.9 percent.

Around the state, Honolulu City and County’s unemployment rate in January was 4.2 percent, up from 3.8 percent in December; Maui County’s rate increased to 5.0 percent from 4.7 percent in December; and Kauai County saw its rate in January edge up to 5.4 percent from 5.2 percent in December.

Nationwide, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 6.6 percent in January, down from 6.7 percent in December, according to the department. The rate is also down from 7.9 percent in January 2013.

The number of unemployed people nationwide declined from 10.4 million in December to 10.2 million in January, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In Hawaii, some 30,250 people remained unemployed and 625,650 held jobs in January, according to the state department.

Hawaii Island’s work force in January, the most recent data available, consisted of 81,300 people of whom 76,300 held jobs, according to preliminary statistics kept by the state.

The greatest increase in the number of jobs added with 900 new positions was seen in the other services sector, followed by the leisure and hospitality, which saw an increase of 700 jobs, according to the state. The educational and health services sector added 200 jobs.

The state attributed the increase in positions in the leisure and hospitality sector to employment gains in food and drinking establishments.

The greatest decrease in employment was recorded in the trade, transportation and utilities sector, which saw 1,800 positions lost, according to the state. The professional and business services sector saw 800 jobs lost; construction saw 500 jobs lost; and manufacturing saw a decrease of 200 positions.

The state said the drop in employment in the trade, transportation and utilities sector could be attributed to the release of seasonal workers following stronger than normal hiring in October and November.

Public sector employment also decreased by 300 positions, according to the state, which noted the lost positions were primarily in local government.

Employment in financial activities remained unchanged in January, according to the department.