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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, March 11, 2010

1 in 6 in Hawaii lacking full-time work

 •  Isles' jobless rate stays near 30-year high

BY Greg Wiles
Advertiser Staff Writer

Nearly one out of every six Hawai'i workers was either unemployed or underemployed last year.

That's according to figures released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics that show the state's labor situation wasn't as rosy as the unemployment rate might suggest.

During 2009, about 15.5 percent of the work force was without jobs or were working part-time because they couldn't get a full-time position, the report shows.

That was up from 8.8 percent in 2008.

"It's approximately one in six unemployed or underemployed," said Amar Mann, a Bureau of Labor Statistics economist.

Most people are familiar with only a single unemployment rate.

But the Bureau of Labor Statistics produces six separate labor measures, starting with a narrow definition of people who've been without work for 15 weeks.

Each successive measure includes more people who feel they aren't working enough on up to the broadest measure, one that takes into account all the people who are unemployed, including those who've stopped looking for work, along with those people who want a full-time position but can only find part-time work.

"When we take all the facets of unemployment and underemployment, we get a more complete picture," Mann said.

"Close to 7 percent of your population is working part time, not because they want to, but because they have to and that's the only jobs they can get."

But he noted Hawai'i was still below the 16.2 percent unemployment and underemployment number for the nation as a whole in 2009.