Isle’s jobless rate dips to 5 percent last month

The unemployment rate for Maui island fell to 5 percent in December, which was down nearly 2 percentage points from the previous December, the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations reported Thursday.

The Maui island December rate was down a half-percentage point from November’s 5.5 percent.

Molokai’s jobless rate was the highest in the state at 12.7 percent but was down from 13.9 percent in November and 13.5 percent in December 2011.

Lanai had the lowest jobless rate in the state at 1.5 percent for the month. That was actually up from 1.4 percent in November and down from 5 percent the previous December.

The total Maui County jobless rate was 5.2 percent, down from 7.1 percent the December before. The rate was up a half-percentage point from November.

The Maui County numbers were not adjusted for seasonal fluctuations in the number of employed and unemployed people, such as for the winter holiday and summer vacation seasons. Seasonal adjustments to the data allow for a better reflection of month-to-month changes.

The seasonally adjusted statewide unemployment rate of 5.2 percent for December was down from 5.3 percent the previous month, the labor department reported. The last time the rate was 5.2 percent was in October 2008.

The national seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 7.8 percent in December.

There were a total of 613,000 employed and 33,500 unemployed in Hawaii in December for a seasonally adjusted labor force of 646,800. The seasonally adjusted labor force was higher than the 643,500 in November but down 2 percent from a labor force of 662,700 the year before.

The total number of seasonally adjusted nonagricultural jobs declined by 4,000 in December over November. There was a drop of 1,900 jobs in the government sector, which the labor department attributed to the release of temporary general election workers.

Job losses logged month over month were in professional and business services, 1,200; education and health services, 600; financial activities, 400; trade, transportation and utilities, 300; and construction, 300.

The drop in professional and business services was tied to less work in employment services, the labor department said.

Job gains were registered in leisure and hospitality – 500 – and manufacturing – 300 – in December compared to the previous month.

Taking a year-over-year perspective, job growth has occurred in leisure and hospitality, 4,700; trade, transportation and utilities, 4,400; and construction, 1,800. Government employment is down 100 jobs.