Maui County’s unemployment rate continues to tick downward

The Maui News

Maui County’s unemployment rate for February was 3 percent, down 0.3 percentage point from 2016, the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations said Thursday.

Maui island’s rate was lower, 2.9 percent, down from 3.1 percent in February 2016.

The rate fell last month despite the closures of Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co., which put more than 600 people out of work last year, and the Makena Beach & Golf Resort with its 385 workers in July. There have been other announced business closures in the first quarter of this year including Kmart and Savers.

That has been offset by the opening of some new developments, one of the larger ones being the 390-room Westin Nanea Ocean Villas in Kaanapali, which is set to open in May.

“I believe overall the economy continues to improve in Maui County, despite the high profile layoffs,” said William Kunstman, department spokes-man. “Many of the Makena workers found jobs at other hotels and Makena did retain some for the transition.

“Some of the HC&S workers simply retired and others found jobs, but . . . some of them are still unemployed or obtaining training.”

Lanai logged the highest jobless rate of the major islands in the state in February — 4.9 percent. That was still lower than the 5.4 percent in 2016.

Molokai saw a significant decline in its jobless rate in February, falling from 7.8 percent in 2016 to 4.1 percent. The Friendly Island generally has the highest unemployment rate in the state in the monthly survey.

The Maui County data are not adjusted for seasonal changes such as summer or holiday hirings.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for the state was 2.8 percent in February, the same as January and down 0.3 percentage point from February 2016.

There were 675,500 people employed and 19,350 people unemployed statewide for a total seasonally adjusted labor force of 694,850.

Initial jobless claims for February increased by nearly 200, or 18 percent, over 2016 but declined 16.6 percent over the previous month.

Job gains were logged in the education and health services sector, up 400 jobs; trade, transportation and utilities, up 300 jobs; and leisure and hospitality, up 200 jobs.

There were losses in the financial activities sector, down 400 jobs; information, down 300 jobs; and professional and business services and construction, down 200 jobs each.

Hiring in the government sector rose 700 jobs, primarily in state government and the University of Hawaii system.