Kaua‘i unemployment rises 1.1% in June

Kaua‘i’s unemployment rate rose to 4.4 percent last month, up from 3.3 percent in May. The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment also increased 0.2 percent over the previous month to 3.8 percent.

For the islands, Kaua‘i’s rate was second to Honolulu, which reported 4.2 percent unemployment. Big Island had the highest unemployment at 6 percent, topping the national average of 5.5 percent.

Both the state and Kaua‘i have seen unemployment rise more than 1 percent since June 2007.

James Hardway, special assistant to the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations director, said the state’s average is still within the desirable 3 to 4 percent range.

For the first six months of 2008, Hawai‘i’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate averaged 3.3 percent. Since April 2002, Hawai‘i’s monthly seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has been at least 1.6 percentage points lower than the U.S. rate.

“We continue to remain cautiously optimistic that Hawai‘i will be able to continue to show its resiliency, particularly in the private sector, in creating new jobs for those affected by the recent closures in the private sector,” Darwin L.D. Ching, director of Labor and Industrial Relations, said.

While the number of unemployed is up on Kaua‘i, so are the number of jobs and people, Hardway said Thursday at the governor’s Kaua‘i Community Advisory Council meeting in Lihu‘e.

“It’s not a loss of jobs as much as an influx of people entering the labor force,” he said. “We’re still creating jobs, just not at the pace we were in the past.”

The same is true for the state. In the first half of 2008, jobs grew by 1,700, or 0.3 percent. Over the year from June 2007, the seasonally adjusted job count reported a 500 job gain.

However, job growth was outpaced by the state’s labor force, which added 13,550 individuals in the last year.

Between May 2007 and May 2008, Kaua‘i created 750 new jobs, which the state labor department attributed to the recent opening of the Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas and construction.

As for the 60-plus laid-off Aloha Airlines workers on Kaua‘i, 33 filed for unemployment benefits without any other source of income in April. That number dropped to 17 people drawing benefits without other employment in June.

Kaua‘i’s fastest growing occupations include computer and mathematical professions, computer specialists, social and community managers, and heavy equipment mechanics.

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