The Hawaii State Department of Labor & Industrial Relations announced Thursday that the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for December was 5.2 percent, down from 5.3 percent in November.
The last time Hawaii had an unemployment rate of 5.2 percent or less was in October 2008.
Statewide, there were 613,300 employed and 33,500 unemployed in December, for a total seasonally adjusted labor force of 646,800. Nationally, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 7.8 percent, unchanged from the revised rate of 7.8 percent in November.
Initial claims and weeks claims for unemployment benefits were both down by 319 claims, or 15.5 percent, and 2,600 claims, or 18.2 percent, respectively compared to one year ago. Between November and December, initial claims and weeks claims increased by 12.6 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively.
"I think the inflated unemployment claim is related to the New Year holiday this year. In 2012, the New Year's Day holiday was on Monday. This year, New Year's Day was on Tuesday," said Eugene Tian, Ph.D., Economic Research Administrator for the Research and Economic Analysis Division of the Hawaii State Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism. "The trend is that people wait until after the holiday to file for unemployment insurance. Last week, there were only 3 days to file, so many people may have moved to this week to file. "
Tian says a better comparison is a three-week interval. Between Dec. 31, 2011 and Jan. 14, 2012, there were 6,965 first-time claims. Between Dec. 29, 2012 and Jan. 12, 2013 there were 6,425 initial claims, a decrease of 7.8 percent.