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County jobless rate for July up for 11th straight month

Rate last fell on Maui in August ’18

Maui County’s jobless rate for July rose slightly compared to last year to 2.6 percent, the 11th month in a row the unemployment rate has been higher year over year, the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations reported Thursday in its monthly report.

The unemployment rate was 0.1 percentage point higher than 2018. Maui island’s jobless rate for July also was up by the same amount to 2.4 percent.

Lanai’s jobless rate, a minuscule 1.1 percent, for July was the same as the previous year. Molokai’s rate was 6.7 percent, down 0.2 percentage point from 2018. Lanai’s rate was the lowest and Molokai’s the highest among the major islands in Hawaii surveyed.

The Maui County numbers are not seasonally adjusted for events such as summer and holiday hiring. This makes month-over-month comparisons less reliable.

The last time the Maui County monthly rate fell year over year was in August 2018.

The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for July was 2.8 percent, the same as June but higher than the 2.5 percent last July. The national jobless rate for the month was 3.7 percent.

There were a seasonally adjusted 77,900 nonagricultural jobs in the Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina metropolitan statistical area. This was 300 more jobs than July 2018 but 300 jobs less than June.

Initial claims for unemployment in July increased 4.9 percent year over year and decreased 1.9 percent month over month.

For the state, there was an increase of 700 jobs in July month over month.

Job gains were recorded in the Leisure & Hospitality category, up 1,000, and Education & Health Services, up 700. The bulk of the increase came in the Food Services and Drinking Places sector.

Losses were logged in Professional & Business Services, down 800, Transportation & Utilities, down 600, and Construction and Manufacturing, both down 100. The Administrative/Support/Waste Management/Remediation Services sector accounted for half of the decline in Professional & Business Services.

Government jobs rose by 600.

In other jobless compensation developments for employers and claimants, the department has launched a new unemployment insurance employer web application and expanded claimant web application for those proficient in Cantonese and Mandarin with translations in simplified Chinese.

The department compiles data on limited English proficiency claimants and determined that Cantonese was the most widely used foreign language. The claimant web application was enhanced to offer simplified Chinese options.

Employers now will be able to electronically file wage and tax data, make tax payments, update and make changes to their accounts and view real time data.

Employers filing quarterly wage reports online simplifies the preparation and submission of tax and wage data, saves taxpayers’ money, and results in greater accuracy when calculating taxes due, the department said.

The department encourages employers to register before Jan. 1, when it becomes mandatory. The new website is www.uiclaims.hawaii.gov and is free and secure.

The software was developed in partnership with DataHouse Consulting Inc.

“These innovative and responsive applications are enhancing the way employers and claimants interact with the department to provide effective and efficient customer service,” said Director Scott Murakami.

* Lee Imada can be reached at leeimada@mauinews.com.