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Hawaii's Unemployment Rate Ties For Third-Worst In Nation

Casey Harlow / HPR

Hawaii's unemployment rate dropped significantly since the start of the coronavirus pandemic but was still tied for third-worst in the nation in August.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday the state's 12.5% seasonally adjusted jobless rate was tied with New York for third-highest in the nation last month. Nevada had the worst rate at 13.2%, while Rhode Island came in second with 12.8%.

The pandemic and measures to control the spread of the virus have forced the shutdown of hundreds of hotels in Hawaii. 

Hawaii's jobless rate improved from 13.5% in July and a peak of 23.8% hit in April.

Hawaii led the nation in how dramatically the jobless rate increased compared to August last year. The state's unemployment rate jumped 9.8 percentage points over a year ago. Nevada was second with a 9.4 percentage-point gain.

The nation's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 8.4 percent in August, down from 10.2 percent in July.

The state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations said 557,200 were employed and 79,700 were unemployed in August statewide. The seasonally adjusted labor force stood at 636,900.

More than 124,000 people filed for weekly unemployment claims Sept. 6-12.

The department said last week that 186,660 valid claims still require DLIR action. The state is planning to hire a call center operator to help resolve the thousands of pending cases. The call center, however, is not expected to be in operation for several weeks.

Applicants have complained for months that they have been unable to reach the department to resolve their cases and receive their benefits.

Those eligible to receive an additional federal $300 Plus-Up benefit under the Lost Wages Assistance program have until today to self-certify that their unemployment was due to COVID-19 disruptions. 

More information is available on the state DLIR website.

HPR News Staff contributed to this report.

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