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Opinion pieces, analyses and letters are intended to provide a diverse range of views from our community. They are not intended to represent the views of Big Island Now.

ANALYSIS: Low Unemployment in Hawaii, But We’re Still Broke

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ANALYSIS: Low Unemployment in Hawaii, But We're Still Broke
The national media seems to think we're rich. So why do we feel so broke? Image courtesy BHG photography.

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  • Byron

    The unemployment number doesn’t really mean much because its only counting the people who are on unemployment. It doesn’t count the people on welfare who refuse to work or those who have up looking or those who never qualified to begin with, like the self employed

    • Nate Gaddis

      We think it’s important to clarify some of this.

      For starters, the unemployment rate you typically see quoted in the media (Big Island Now included) is based off the “civilian unemployment rate”, as determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

      That number does not simply count “the people who are on unemployment.” Nor does it ignore the self-employed.

      For a full breakdown of how the BLS calculates their figures, see here:
      http://www.bls.gov/cps/cps_htgm.htm#employed

      In a nutshell, civilians over the age of 16 who are jobless and actively looking for work will get classified as “unemployed.”

      You are correct that this doesn’t count people who have given up looking for work. It also ignores retirees, and those uninterested in seeking work (there are a few other exceptions you can read about at the link above).

      Hope this info helps. -N

      • Byron

        If you’re self employed and you can’t work, no one pays you unemployment, you’re not counted towards this percentage.
        If 17-20% of the population is on welfare, that shows how flawed the number is already.