By CHELSEA JENSEN
The Big Island’s unemployment rate in October dropped for the fourth consecutive month; however, the island continues to have the highest rate among Hawaii’s four counties.
Hawaii County’s unemployment rate fell to 7.5 percent in October, down from 7.9 percent in September. That’s down from June’s unemployment rate of 10.1 percent, according to the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations. Unemployment in October 2011 was 9.5 percent.
The October data likely does not include the 112 jobs lost with the Oct. 31 closure of the Keauhou Beach Hotel, said DLIR Spokesman Bill Kunstman. Unless an employee filed for unemployment benefits that day, the hotel jobs lost will be reflected in the November unemployment report.
Statewide, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 5.5 percent, down from 5.7 percent in September and 6.8 percent in September 2011, according to the department. Around the state, Honolulu City and County’s unemployment rate in October held steady at 5 percent; Kauai County’s rate dropped to 6.5 percent and Maui County saw its rate decrease to 5.7 percent.
While Hawaii Island’s unemployment rate is declining, the 4,028-square-mile island historically has had a higher unemployment rate than the state’s other three counties, Kunstman said.
Nationwide, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 7.9 percent in October, up slightly from 7.8 percent in September, but down from 8.9 percent in October 2011, according to the department.
The number of unemployed people nationwide was approximately 12.3 million in October following declines in September, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Statewide, some 35,550 people remained unemployed and 606,950 held jobs in October, according to the department. Hawaii Island’s work force in October consisted of 82,750 people, of whom 76,550 held jobs, according to preliminary county unemployment statistics kept by the department.
Statewide, leisure and hospitality services saw the highest number of jobs added at 800 positions. Professional and business services added 600 jobs, construction added 300 jobs; trade, transportation and utilities added 300; other services added 200 jobs; and manufacturing increased positions by 100. Government payrolls increased by 100 jobs.
Educational and health services saw the most jobs lost at 200 followed by financial activities which recorded 100 positions lost.
According to the department, a robust visitor industry continued to fuel employment in leisure and hospitality while strong hiring in employment services provided a boost to professional and business services.
Email Chelsea Jensen at email@example.com.