This Hawaiian City Has The Highest Jobless Rate In America

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Released its METROPOLITAN AREA EMPLOYMENT AND UNEMPLOYMENT — OCTOBER 2020, the latest month available. The U.S. jobless rate for the month was 6.9%, not seasonally adjusted. Of America’s 389 metropolitan areas, the jobless rate was up in 384 compared to October 2019. Of these of 124 metropolitan areas had unemployment rates of less than 5% percent and 16 had rates of 10% or more.

Only one of these metro areas has an unemployment rate of over 20%. In Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, Hawaii it reached 22.5%.

Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina ranks 258th among all U.S. metros based on population at 167,488. It is made up of two counties–Kalawao County and Maui County. The MSA covers 1,161.5 square miles. It also covers another over 1,000 square miles of water. There are 144.2 people per square mile.

The median age in the metro is 41.7 years which is 10% higher than the national average.

The median household income is $80,754, which is about the same as the rest of Hawaii, but 25% above the national average.

The median value of owner-occupied homes is $697,900, which is well over twice the U.S. figure.

Educational levels are about the same as the rest of the country. Residents who have a high school degree or higher are at 90.6%. Those with a bachelor’s degree or better is 27.7%, somewhat below the national average.

With a population with a strong demographic base, what has happened to the job situation which makes it so high? The answer in a word is “tourism”. Hawaii is like many other states in that its governments and healthcare systems are among the largest employers. However, Hawaiian Airlines, Kapalua Resort, Outrigger Resorts, and Aston Hotels & Resorts are among the 25 largest employers. Other hotels and resorts employ hundreds of people each.

Local TV station KHON reports, “According to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, hotel room revenues statewide fell by 88% in October, and occupancy declined to 19.7% compared to the same time last year.” The new surge in COVID-19 will almost certainly make that worse.

The BLS report about metro populations shows how wide the spread of unemployment is among cities, and how high the figure is in Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina:

Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, HI, had the highest unemployment rate in October,22.5 percent, followed by El Centro, CA, 18.8 percent. Ames, IA, and Burlington-South Burlington, VT, had the lowest unemployment rates, 1.9 percent and 2.1 percent, respectively.

As the number of COVID-19 infections spreads, not just in the U.S. but around the world, tourism.


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