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Labor market off to hot start on Kaua‘i

LIHU‘E — A vigorous labor market started the year on an energetic note, as it added hundreds of jobs across key sectors of the island economy midway through the winter tourism season.

As a result, the unemployment rate dropped to 2.6 percent in January from 2.9 percent in January 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 January since pre-pandemic 2020 when it measured 2.4 percent.

The labor market was paced by its bellwether accommodation sector, which added 400 jobs to bring its total to 4,400. That marked a gain of 10.0 percent in the period.

Food service and drinking places followed, as the sector added 300 jobs to bring its total to 4,400. That marked a gain of 7.3 percent in the period.

Two sectors — state government and professional and business service — added 200 positions in the period. That marked increases of 7.1 percent and 6.9 percent, respectively.

Two other sectors — natural resources, mining and construction and local government — added 100 positions in the period. That marked gains of 5.0 percent and 7.7 percent, respectively.

On the downside, the manufacturing, financial activities, federal government and arts, entertainment and recreation sectors each shed 100 jobs in the period. That marked decreases of 16.7 percent, 9.1 percent, 16.7 percent and 8.3 percent, respectively.

All told, civilian employment climbed to 35,800 in January from 35,450 in January 2023, while the labor force rose to 36,750 from 36,500 in the same period.

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

The jobless rate on Maui increased to 5.9 percent in January from 3.0 percent in January 2023.

The unemployment rate on O‘ahu eased to 2.7 percent in January from 3.0 percent in January 2023, while the jobless rate on Hawai‘i Island retreated to 2.8 percent from 3.3 percent in the same period.

Statewide, the unemployment rate measured 3.1 percent in January. That was up from 3.0 percent in January 2023. Data not seasonally adjusted.

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

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