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Jobless rate falls to 2.5 percent on Kaua‘i

LIHU‘E — The unemployment rate in the County of Kaua‘i moved within spitting distance of pre-pandemic lows last month, largely because of robust hiring in the accommodation sector ahead of the summer tourism season.

The jobless rate retreated to 2.5 percent in May from 3.4 percent in May 2022, according to monthly data released by the Hawai‘i Department of Business, Economic Development &Tourism.

The most recent rate was the lowest on Kaua‘i since March 2020, when it measured 2.2 percent. One month later, in April 2020, the unemployment rate skyrocketed to 32.4 percent as the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on the local economy and its bellwether tourism industry.

But that was then, and now the accommodation sector has rebounded as evidenced by a 15.8 percent surge in jobs to 4,400 in May from 3,800 in May 2023.

That was easily the largest employment gain in any sector last month, with the next closest being retail trade, which was up 5.3 percent to 4,000 jobs from 3,800 in the same period.

Six other sectors also weighed in with payroll increases — transportation, warehousing and utilities, professional and business service, other service, manufacturing, local government, and arts, entertainment and recreation. Each sector was up 100 jobs in May, when compared with May 2022.

On the downside, three sectors shed jobs last month. Food service and drinking places was the biggest loser, as it lopped off 200 jobs. Federal government and financial activities were each down 100.

The overall employment gains came amid a labor force that inched up to 36,450 in May from 36,400 in May 2022. At the same time, total employed civilians rose to 35,500 from 35,200.

The jobless rate on Kaua‘i stacked up favorably with the three other major islands. The unemployment rate on O‘ahu dropped to 2.6 percent in May from 3.2 percent in May 2022. The jobless rate eased to 3 percent from 3.3 percent on Hawai‘i Island, while the figure decreased to 2.5 percent from 3.2 percent on Maui. Statewide, the unemployment rate slid to 2.6 percent from 3.2 percent. The data is not seasonally adjusted.


Wyatt Haupt Jr., editor, can be reached at 808-245-0457 or
Source: The Garden Island

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