Kaua’i County continues to lead in state unemployment

LIHU’E — Kaua‘i unemployment rate dropped to 7.2% in November from 7.8% in October, according to the latest data from the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

But the county still has the highest unemployment rate of any county in the state.

The statewide unemployment rate was 5.4% last month, with Honolulu reporting 5%, Hawai‘i County reporting 5.2% and Maui County reporting 7%.

“Kaua‘i’s unemployment rate is similar to the rest of the state and nation, but much more pronounced in our smaller, rural population,” Office of Economic Development Director Nalani Brun said Thursday. “We have many jobs, but few people looking for them, which slows the recovery process.”

Businesses are seeing firsthand a shortage of potential employees as employers struggle to find workers in just about every industry, including agriculture, construction, education, health care, retail and hospitality.

Many Kaua‘i businesses, including hotels, tour operators and contractors, have increased starting wages and offered referral and signing bonuses to workers, and continue to recruit workers.

Hawai‘i unemployment rates are significantly higher than the national average of 3.9%.

And the labor force is shrinking.

In Nov. 2020, the total seasonally-adjusted statewide labor force was 655,900, including 588,350 employed workers and 67,550 unemployed people, DBEDT reported.

Last month, the labor force was nearly 10,000 people smaller than one year ago, at 646,450, including 608,000 workers and 38,450 on unemployment.

Part of the loss in workers is due to certain workers dropping out of the workforce entirely. The report cites child care and transportation problems as examples of reasons people are leaving the workforce.

Including those who have not searched for work in the last four weeks, the state unemployment rate is significantly higher, 9.4%.

The county’s OED will continue to have the Ho‘ohana Kaua‘i Program available for residents, which supports job-seekers in making connections with employers looking for their skill sets.

There are also plans to continue to support on-island job fairs as much as possible, starting again in January.

Those interested in learning more about the Ho‘ohana Kaua‘i Program can contact Michelle Lopes at 808-241-4192 or mlopes@kauai.gov.

  1. Woohooo December 17, 2021 1:44 pm Reply

    We’re number 1!!!

    1. Jim December 18, 2021 8:51 am Reply

      Only on Kauai would they call it “leading” in unemployment

  2. CommonSenseish December 17, 2021 3:31 pm Reply

    Soo… we have stores and restaurants with modified hours because they can’t find workers… and yet we have the highest unemployment rate? Hmm… maybe if the government stopped the free handouts it would solve BOTH problems. Just. Saying.

  3. Chip Mackel December 17, 2021 3:34 pm Reply

    The main reason businesses aren’t finding employees is because housing costs (rents, home prices) have become so extreme that people have left the island, or are leaving.

    If people can’t afford housing, their largest expense, then people move elsewhere and local businesses suffer, and close.

    Nothing will change until this giant housing bubble pops.

  4. Sara December 17, 2021 7:55 pm Reply

    Housing is too expensive, many people are leaving and nobody is replacing those leaving since there is nowhere reasonable to live.

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