County sees little change in jobless rate for February

Maui County’s not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained around 5 percent in February, showing only small fractions of movement from the same month last year and from January, according to statistics provided by the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.

To be exact, the county’s unemployment rate was 5.1 percent in February, 5.3 percent in February 2013 and 5 percent in January. For Maui island, the rate was 5 percent in February, 5.2 percent a year earlier and 5 percent, or unchanged, since January.

Molokai had the state’s highest unemployment rate at 9.7 percent in February, but that was down from 10.4 percent a year earlier. In January, the Friendly Isle’s unemployment rate was at 6.8 percent.

Lanai had the state’s lowest unemployment rate – 3.1 percent in February, 2.5 percent a year earlier and 2.9 percent in January.

Statewide, not seasonally adjusted unemployment was at 4.6 percent in January and February, and in February 2013 it was at 4.8 percent. The statewide labor force in February was 656,550, with 626,400 employed and 30,150 unemployed.

Nationally, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 6.7 percent in February, down from 7.7 percent in the same month last year, but up a 10th of a percentage point from 6.6 percent in January.

(The seasonal fluctuations in the number of employed and unemployed people reflect hiring and layoff patterns that accompany regular events such as the winter holiday and summer vacation seasons. The labor department’s statistics reflect this with seasonally adjusted and nonadjusted figures.)

Both initial claims and weeks claims decreased by 44, or 2.4 percent, and 384, or 3.3 percent, respectively for unemployment benefits compared with a year ago, the department said. Over the month, both initial claims and weeks claims also dropped by 16.9 percent and 2.2 percent, respectively from January.

In a separate measure of employment, total seasonally adjusted nonagricultural jobs decreased by 2,300 in February, compared with January. Over the month, financial activities jobs gained 300 and construction 100. Jobs in educational and health services remained stable, according to the labor department.

Job declines were seen in manufacturing (minus 100); trade, transportation and utilities (minus 100); other services (minus 1,000); professional and business services (minus 1,100); and leisure and hospitality (minus 1,800).

The labor department said the bulk of job contraction in professional and business services was attributed to less hiring at professional employer organizations and temporary help services. Following an all-time high level of employment in January, leisure and hospitality jobs went down “as the visitor industry tempered down a bit,” the department said.

Government employment increased by 1,300 jobs, primarily from hiring in the University of Hawaii system, labor officials said.