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Jobless rate falls to 2.5 percent in February on Kaua‘i

LIHU‘E — A robust labor market turned up the heat in February, as it added hundreds of jobs across key sectors of the island economy in the final full month of the winter tourism season.

As a result, the unemployment rate dropped to 2.5 percent in February from 2.9 percent in February 2023, according to monthly data released by the Hawai‘i Department of Business, Economic Development &Tourism.

The most recent reading was the lowest among the four major counties in the Hawaiian Island chain and the lowest on Kaua‘i for the month of February since pre-pandemic 2020 when it measured 2.1 percent.

The job growth was led by the bellwether accommodation sector, which added 200 positions to bring its total to 4,400. That marked an increase of 4.8 percent in the period.

Food service and drinking places also added 200 jobs to bring its total to 4,300. That marked a gain of 4.9 percent.

Four sectors — state government, professional and business service, natural resources, mining and construction and local government — each added 100 jobs. That marked increases of 3.3 percent, 3.4 percent, 4.8 percent and 7.7 percent in the period, respectively.

On the downside, the manufacturing, financial activities and federal government sectors each shed 100 jobs. That marked a decrease of 16.7 percent, 9.1 percent and 16.7 percent in the period, respectively.

Arts, entertainment and recreation posted the largest drop, as the sector lopped off 200 jobs. That marked a decline of 16.7 percent in the period.

All told, civilian employment climbed to 35,850 in February from 35,400 in February 2023, while the labor force rose to 36,800 from 36,500 in the same period.

The highest unemployment rate on the four major islands was recorded on Maui, whose economy continues to recover from the deadly Lahaina Fire on Aug. 8, 2023. The wildfire claimed the lives of 101 people and destroyed more than 2,000 structures.

The jobless rate on Maui increased to 5.6 percent in February from 2.9 percent in February 2023.

The unemployment rate on O‘ahu eased to 2.7 percent in February from 2.9 percent in February 2023, while the jobless rate on Hawai‘i Island retreated to 2.9 percent from 3.2 percent in the same period.

Statewide, the unemployment rate measured 3.1 percent in February. That was up from 2.9 percent in February 2023. Data not seasonally adjusted.
Source: The Garden Island

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