Leisure and hospitality drive employment uptick in Hawaii

Hawaii's unemployment rate dropped from 4% in August to 3.5% in September, driven by an increase in leisure and hospitality jobs.

The decrease was the second highest in the country for the month, according to WalletHub. New Jersey had the biggest decline in unemployment. The Garden state's rate dropped by .07 percentage points to 3.3% in September. The national unemployment rate is 3.5%.

Hawaii added 2,700 jobs in leisure and hospitality, according to the Hawaii State Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism. Most of those jobs are in the food and drinking services, the department said.

The job increases come as the state's tourism industry continues to bounce back from pandemic-related closures. DBEDT officials are predicting that 9.2 million people will visit the Aloha State in 2022. That would be an 88.5% recovery from pre-pandemic levels.

Other industries seeing an increase in jobs are education and health, which added 500 and construction, which added 400.

Economists at the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization said in a report last month that job numbers remain below pre-pandemic levels.

"The ongoing visitor industry recovery will support job gains in tourism related areas next year, while many other sectors experience weakness," the authors wrote. "Aggregate job growth will slow from more than 5% this year to 1.7% in 2023."

The future job market will be employee-driven in the future, according to Dr. Steve Werner, chair of the department of management and leadership at the University of Houston's C.T. Bauer College of Business.

"Providing benefits strategically, keeping up with rising compensation demands, and addressing the new reality that many employees want to work remotely will help employers stay competitive in attracting and retaining employees," Werner said.

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