By Howard Dicus
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii unemployment is less than 4 percent, or as much as 15 percent, depending on where you, based on new data released by the Hawaii Department of Labor & Industrial Relations.
The data, from January, show unadjusted unemployment of 15 percent on Molokai, compared to 12.1 percent a year earlier at the same time. Molokai has long had by far the highest unemployment in the state, the most volatility in the rate, and the greatest amount of trade through barter and cash payments in the gray economy.
At the opposite side of the scale is Lanai, whose economy is so heavily based on the two resort hotels that residents tend to work directly or indirectly for Castle & Cooke or must move to another island to find employment. Accordingly, the January jobless rate on Lanai was 3.9 percent, down from 5.5 percent a year ago.
Between those extremes, unemployment in the same period was 9.4 percent on the Big Island (a year ago, 9.7 percent), 8.3 percent on Kauai (a year ago, 8.9 percent), 6.9 percent on the island of Maui (a year ago, 8.2 percent) and 5.7 percent on Oahu (a year ago, 5.8 percent).
Neighbor island economies have historically entered recession before Oahu and pulled out later. This is not unlike the contrast between populous and more rural areas in other states, such as California, where unemployment in the central agricultural region has been more than twice as bad as joblessness in Los Angeles or San Francisco.