By CHELSEA JENSEN
The Big Island’s unemployment rate in May 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 6.5 percent in May, down from 6.6 percent in April. That’s down from January’s unemployment rate of 7.5 percent, according to the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations. Unemployment in May 2012 was 8.4 percent.
Statewide, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 4.7 percent, down from 4.9 percent in April and 6.1 percent in May 2012, according to the department. That’s the lowest rate since September 2008 when 4.6 percent were unemployed.
Around the state, Honolulu City and County’s unemployment rate in May was 4 percent, up from 3.9 percent in April; Kauai County’s rate dropped to 5.3 percent and Maui County saw its rate hold steady at 4.8 percent, according to the department.
Nationwide, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 7.6 percent in May, up slightly from 7.5 percent in April, but down from 8.2 percent in May 2012, according to the department.
The number of unemployed people nationwide was approximately 11.8 million in May up from 11.7 million in April and March, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Statewide, some 30,600 people remained unemployed and 615,750 held jobs in May, according to the department.
Hawaii Island’s work force in April, the most recent data available, consisted of 83,018 people, of whom 77,508 held jobs, according to preliminary county unemployment statistics kept by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Statewide, leisure and hospitality services saw the highest number of jobs added at 800 positions followed by educational and health services, which added 300 jobs. Professional and business services added 100 jobs while financial services positions increased by 100.
The bulk of the increase in jobs in the leisure and hospitality services sector was attributed to food services and drinking establishments, according to the department.
Government experienced the highest contraction of jobs with 2,800 positions lost. The department attributed the decrease in government jobs to seasonal staffing patterns within the Department of Education.
In the private sector, construction experienced the next most jobs lost at 300 followed by 100 positions cut in both manufacturing and trade, transportation and utilities.
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