Maui Business

Maui Unemployment Declines to 5% in December

January 17, 2013, 4:24 PM HST
* Updated January 18, 6:10 AM
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Source: Hawaii Dept of Labor & Industrial Relations. Courtesy photo.

Source: Hawaii Dept of Labor & Industrial Relations. Courtesy photo.

By Sonia Isotov

Maui’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate declined in December to 5.0%, down from 5.5% in November, and 6.9% one year ago, according to statistics released by the Hawaii Department of Labor & Industrial Relations (DLIR) today.

Statewide, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for Hawaii in December 2012 was 5.2%, down from 5.3% in November, and 6.6% one year ago. The last time Hawaii had an unemployment rate of 5.2% or less was in October 2008.

Nationally, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 7.8%, unchanged from the revised rate of 7.8% in November.

Employment across the state grew by 3,750 over December 2012. There were 613,300 employed and 33,500 unemployed in December, for a total seasonally adjusted labor force of 646,800.

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State initial claims and weeks claims for unemployment benefits were both down by 319 claims or 15.5% and 2,600 claims or 18.2%, respectively compared to one year ago. Between November and December, initial claims and weeks claims increased by 12.6% and 1.3%, respectively.

Photo courtesy of DLIR.

Photo courtesy of DLIR.

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DBEDT noted that a caveat should be made on the unemployment numbers released today for “initial unemployment claims:”

“I think the inflated unemployment claim is related to the New Year holiday this year.,” said Eugene Tian, PhD, an economic research administrator for the Research and Economic Analysis Division of the Hawaii State Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism (i.e. the chief state economist).

“In 2012, the New Year’s Day holiday was on Monday. This year, New Year’s Day was on Tuesday. The trend is that people wait until after the holiday to file for unemployment insurance. Last week, there were only three days to file, so many people may have moved to this week to file.”

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DBEDT noted that a three week comparison would make more sense with a decrease of 7.8%. So, as a trend, first time unemployment claim filings still continued downward.

The unemployment rate figures for Hawaii and the US in this release are seasonally adjusted, in accordance with the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) methodology. The not seasonally adjusted rate for the state declined to 4.8%% in December from 5.3% in November.

The seasonal fluctuations in the number of employed and unemployed persons reflect hiring (and layoffs) patterns that accompany regular events such as the winter holiday season and the summer vacation season. These variations make it difficult to tell whether month-to-month changes in employment and unemployment are due to normal seasonal patterns or to changing economic conditions.

To deal with such problems, a statistical technique called seasonal adjustment is used. This technique uses the past history of the series to identify the seasonal movements and to calculate the size and direction of these movements. A seasonal adjustment factor is then developed and applied to the estimates to eliminate the effects of regular seasonal fluctuations on the data.

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