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Hawaii


Airline layoffs about to skew Isle jobless rate

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Apr 20, 2008

Hawaii continued to have a relatively low unemployment rate in March, but that is expected to change as the fallout from the roughly 2,000 layoffs at Aloha Airlines and ATA is reflected in the state's April jobless report.

The state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 3.1 percent in March, compared with 3.2 percent the previous month, according to the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations. Although the jobless rate fell 0.1 of a percentage point, it was higher than the 2.5 percent reported in March 2007.

The report did not include the nearly 2,100 former airline employees who lost their jobs at the end of March and beginning of April. In the first week after the layoffs, the labor department reported a 132.7 percent increase in claims for unemployment insurance from the same period a year earlier.

The Department of Business Economic Development and Tourism last week projected that the unemployment rate could reach 3.9 percent as a result of the job losses relating to Aloha and ATA. The ripple effect of the airlines' closures could lead to another 2,050 indirect job losses and put another 1,770 jobs "at risk," DBEDT said.

But many of these people may be able to find work in what is still considered a healthy job market. "The department is optimistic that Hawai'i's relatively low unemployment rate and excellent employment numbers will present new employment opportunities for those skilled workers recently affected by the high-profile closures," said Darwin Ching, labor department director.

At 3.1 percent, Hawaii had the country's fourth-lowest unemployment rate in March, with South Dakota the lowest at 2.5 percent. Nationally, the seasonably adjusted rate rose from 4.8 percent in February to 5.1 percent in March, the highest since September 2005 and a further sign of a slumping economy.

In Hawaii, there were 637,500 employed and 20,500 unemployed for a seasonally adjusted labor force of 658,000 in March, according to the state.

honoluluadvertiser.com

Airline layoffs about to skew Isle jobless rate
State unemployment office. Photo courtesy of starbulletin.com



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