Jobless rate down full point from ’12 — at 5.6 percent

Maui County’s unemployment rate of 5.6 percent in February was a drop of more than a full percentage point from the 6.9 percent rate in the same month last year, according to the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.

The county’s rate also was one-tenth of a percentage point lower than the 5.7 percent rate in January.

The Maui County rate was not seasonally adjusted, labor officials said. Seasonal adjustments are made to account for fluctuations of employed and unemployed people that reflect hiring and layoffs that occur from regular activities, such as the winter holidays or summer vacations. Seasonal adjustments aid in month-to-month comparisons.

Maui island’s unemployment rate mirrored that of the county’s, posting rates in January and February that were only one-tenth of a percentage point lower than the county rate.

Island and county rates in the labor department report were not seasonally adjusted.

Molokai posted the state’s highest unemployment rate, 10.9 percent in February, 1.7 percentage points higher than the Friendly Isle’s rate in January. But the island’s most recent unemployment figure is 2.2 percentage points lower than the 13.1 percent reported in February 2012.

Lanai is enjoying the state’s lowest unemployment rate at 2.6 percent, 1.4 percentage points lower than the same month last year and 2.2 points lower than in January.

The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for February was 5.2 percent, the same as January but one full percentage point lower than last February.

The U.S. seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for February was 7.7 percent, six-tenths of a point lower than last year and two-tenths of a point lower than last month.

Statewide, there were 617,250 people employed and 33,750 unemployed in February, for a total seasonally adjusted labor force of 651,050. There were 7,100 fewer unemployed in the work force this February than compared to February 2012.

Initial claims and weeks claims for unemployment benefits in Hawaii were down by 2.6 percent and 18.5 percent, respectively.

State labor officials said total seasonally adjusted nonagricultural jobs declined by 2,500 in February over January. Over-the-month expansion occurred in the financial activities category where 2,500 jobs were added. Over-the-month decreases happened in construction and manufacturing (down 100 each); education and health services (down 200); trade, transportation and utilities (down 400); professional and business services (down 500); and leisure and hospitality (down 900). In the public sector, employment in government contracted by 900 jobs, with the bulk in state government.