County jobless rate tumbles in March

Maui County’s unemployment rate dropped 1.1 percentage points to 5.7 percent in March, compared with the same month last year, according to the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.

The county’s March rate also was 0.3 percentage points lower than February’s rate of 6 percent.

The Maui County rate was not seasonally adjusted. Seasonal adjustments 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 in March was 5.3 percent, down 1.4 percentage points from a year earlier. Last month, the island’s rate was 5.5 percent, the department reported.

Again, Molokai had the state’s highest unemployment rate, 11 percent in March, a tenth of a percentage point higher than last month’s 10.9 percent. The Friendly Isle’s March rate, however, is 2.1 percentage points lower than it was a year earlier.

On the other end of the employment spectrum, Lanai again had the state’s lowest unemployment rate in March, 2.1 percent, a half-percent lower than February and 1.9 points lower than a year ago.

Seasonally adjusted figures for the state were 5.1 percent in March, down from 5.2 percent in February and 6.2 percent in March 2012.

The U.S. seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for March was 7.6 percent, a tenth of a percentage point lower than February and six-tenths of a point lower than a year ago.

Statewide, there were 614,100 people employed and 33,300 unemployed in March, for a total seasonally adjusted labor force of 647,400.

There were 7,050 fewer unemployed in the workforce this March than compared to the same month last year.

Initial claims and weeks claims for unemployment benefits were both down by 157 claims, or 8.3 percent, and 2,519 claims, or 17.6 percent, respectively, compared with a year ago, the department reported. Between February and March this year, initial claims dropped by 4.8 percent and weeks claims increased by 0.4 percent, respectively.

State labor officials said total seasonally adjusted nonagricultural jobs declined by 500 in March over February. Over-the-month expansion occurred in construction (up 700); leisure and hospitality (up 500); and educational and health services (up 100). Over-the-month decreases were seen in trade, transportation and utilities (down 800); financial activities; professional and business services; government; and other services (all down 200); and manufacturing (down 100).

Federal employment was down 100 jobs from last month, while state employment was unchanged and local government gained 100 jobs.