By Howard Dicus
HONOLULU and WASHINGTON (HawaiiNewsNow) - The U.S. unemployment rate rose one tenth in May to 8.2 percent, but the newest Hawaii weekly jobless claims report shows a decline in total filings to the lowest level in years.
Nationwide, May saw net job growth, but less than a third as much as projected. Both discouraged workers and long-term unemployed grew as 13,000 government job cuts reduced the impact of 82,000 jobs in the private sector. Construction employment was down 28,000.
In Hawaii, weekly jobless claims for the seven days to May 26 came to 13,184, the lowest since September 2008, with declines in all four operating counties. That included 1,858 first-time filings, up 46 from the week before, with most of the increase on Oahu.
Jobless claims fluctuate from week to week, both in Hawaii and nationwide, but island claims have generally been down 10 percent from year-ago levels, with a very gradual trend of further decline. The claims data are actual counts rather than surveys or samples.
Some economists were less worried about a one tenth change in the jobless rate than another part of the Friday report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which said average wages were rising very slowly while average workweek actually declined, a sign, analysts said, of reduced consumer buying power.
Stock prices fell on that indication, despite recent reports by several retailers of higher May sales. Costco, Macy's and Target this week have all reported same-store sales running about 4 percent higher than last year at the same time, while Ford reported Friday that its May sales were up 13 percent from year-ago figures.