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Kaua‘i economy heading in right direction

LIHU‘E — Strong roster additions in key sectors of the economy helped send the jobless rate spiraling downward last month, as the County of Kaua‘i labor market continued its recovery in the post-pandemic era.

The unemployment rate sank to 4 percent in October from 6.3 percent in October 2021, according to monthly data released by the state Department of Business, Economic Development &Tourism.

The latest reading was also more than 13 percentage points lower than October 2020, when the unemployment rate measured 17.3 percent during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It (the jobless rate) falling that much over the year, I think is probably better than what most people expected,” said Carl Bonham, executive director of The Economic Research Organization of the University of Hawai‘i.

Job growth on Kaua‘i was led by two sectors — food service and drinking places, and accommodation.

Each of those sectors added 500 jobs in October, when compared with totals from October 2021. Food service and drinking places ended the month with a total payroll of 4,200 people, while accommodation came in at 4,000.

Arts, entertainment and recreation increased its job rolls to 1,300 in October from 900 in October 2021, the monthly data showed. At the same time, retail trade climbed to 3,900 from 3,700.

Those numbers represented a solid bounce back for each of the sectors.

“That’s kind of the interesting piece,” said Bonham on where the jobs on Kaua‘i are happening. “The sectors that have been constraining — retail, food service and accommodation — have just sort of seen steady improvement.”

Additionally, professional and business services rose to 2,800 in October from 2,600 in October 2021. Natural resources, mining and construction, and manufacturing each added 100 jobs in the period. Natural resources, mining and construction ended with a total payroll of 2,200 in the first full month of fall, while manufacturing stood at 600.

On the downside, three sectors of the economy — wholesale trade, state government and financial activities — each shed 100 jobs last month.

All told, the number of employed residents on Kaua‘i surged to 35,600 in October from 34,450 in October 2021. That marked a gain of 3.3 percent in the period. At the same time, the civilian labor force was up 0.7 percent to 37,050 from 36,800.

The total employment and labor force data were good signs for the local economy.

“The overall picture is positive,” Bonham said. “We are getting much closer to getting back to normal. Certainly not there, but everything is moving in the right direction.

Statewide, the unemployment rate dropped to 3.5 percent in October from 5.1 percent in October 2021. Lana‘i posted the lowest rate at 1.7 percent, while Moloka‘i recorded the highest at 8.4 percent. Data is not seasonally adjusted.

Nationwide, the jobless rate fell to 3.7 percent in October from 4.6 percent in October 2021, according to data from the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics. Minnesota and Utah had the lowest unemployment rates in the country at 2.1 percent, while the District of Columbia had the highest at 4.8 percent.


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

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