Hawaii’s 'full employment' gets fuller - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Hawaii’s 'full employment' gets fuller

(Image: Hawaii News Now/file) (Image: Hawaii News Now/file)
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Hawaii’s unemployment rate has fallen to 2.2 percent, and without the usual seasonal adjustment it is only 1.9 percent.

The state jobless rate has been below 3 percent since July 2016.

Economists call 3 percent joblessness “full employment,” reflecting the belief that anyone who needs a job can find one.

Real life can be more complicated. A worker may lack the skills the market needs, or the skill to pass a job interview and actually get a job.

At 1.9 percent joblessness many who are still unemployed may be holding out for a specific kind of work. No town has a perfect between skills needed and skills people have, and employers in Hawaii often complain that they have to hire people from the mainland for certain skilled positions.

In years past, a low unemployment rate sometimes reflected conditions on Oahu, while rates were significantly higher on other islands (On the mainland, too, rural jobless rates are nearly always higher.). But neighbor island jobless rates have also fallen significantly.

October unadjusted jobless rates (and year-ago):

  • Honolulu 1.8 (2.8)
  • Big Island 2.3 (3.6)
  • Maui island 1.9 (2.9)
  • Kauai 1.8 (3.2)
  • Molokai 5,1 (9.6)
  • Lanai 2.4 (4.1)

(Maui County as a whole has 2 percent unemployment compared to 3.2 a year ago.)

The Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations counts more than 671,000 employed persons across the state, and about 15,000 collecting unemployment compensation.

For every three jobless today, there were four a year ago.

Employment is up, compared to last year, in tourism, construction and retail, while there have been small declines in federal and state government employment, in financial services, and in real estate.

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