Hospitals transfer is thought responsible for county job growth

The Maui News

The state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations is attributing the Maui Region hospital privatization as being mostly responsible for a large growth of workers in the educational and health services job sector in July.

The educational and health services category increased by 2,300, and Kaiser Permanente spokeswoman Laura Lott said there were approximately 1,500 state employees who became private employees of Maui Health System as of July 1. Those were jobs at all three former public hospitals — Maui Memorial Medical Center, Kula Hospital and Lanai Community Hospital, she said.

Maui Health System is a not-for-profit organization affiliated with Kaiser. The changeover happened on July 1.

Meanwhile, Maui County’s unemployment rate dipped to 2.7 percent in July, down from 3.4 percent in June and from 3.3 percent a year ago, the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations reported.

Breaking down the county’s jobless numbers for July by island: Maui was at 2.4 percent in July, down from 3.2 percent in June and 3.1 percent in July 2016; Molokai was at 9 percent (highest in the state) last month, down from 11.2 percent in June, but up from 8.4 percent a year earlier; and Lanai was at 6 percent, down from 6.2 percent last month and down from 6.4 percent a year ago.

These are not seasonally adjusted jobless rates, meaning they don’t take into account seasonal fluctuations in employment for Christmas or summer vacations, for example.

For comparison, the not seasonally adjusted rate for the state of Hawaii was 2.5 percent in August, down from 3.3 percent in June and 3.1 percent in July 2016. For the United States as a whole, unemployment was at 4.6 percent last month, up from 4.5 percent in June but down from 5.1 percent a year earlier.

Hawaii’s labor force totaled 693,100 in July. Of those people, the number employed was put at 674,450 and unemployed was at 18,650.

The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment figure was 2.7 percent in July, down from 2.8 percent in June.

“Hawaii’s economy continues to maintain a low 2.8 percent average unemployment rate for the first seven months of this year, compared to 3 percent in 2016,” said Linda Chu Takayama, labor department director.

Both initial and week’s claims for unemployment benefits increased by 52, or 4 percent, and by 564, or 7.7 percent, respectively, compared with a year ago. Month-over-month initial and week’s claims rose by 8.8 percent and 2.3 percent, respectively, in June.

Excluding agricultural employment, a survey of industry payrolls showed that Hawaii had 2,400 more jobs available in July than in June, the department reported. Job gains were seen in educational and health services (plus 2,300); trade, transportation and utilities (plus 1,800); professional and business services (plus 500); other services (plus 200); information (plus 200); manufacturing (plus 100) and financial activities (plus 100). There was no job expansion in the trade, transportation and utilities category, and there were job losses in the categories of government employment (minus 2,200); construction (minus 300); and leisure and hospitality (minus 300).

Compared with a year earlier, total nonfarm jobs have expanded by 8,100.