Times continue to improve for job seekers locally and nationally, but incomes in the islands have a long way to before many weekly wage-earners can afford to handle the state’s high prices.

The employment situation improved between March 2014 and March 2015 for all but 19 of America’s 342 large counties, according to recently released data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Large” counties have 75,000 or more employees.

Jobs growth in Honolulu — Hawaii’s only large county in terms of employment — was 1.1 percent, which is barely half the national increase of 2.1 percent. But given such low unemployment numbers here — statewide joblessness is down to 3.4 percent, one of the lowest rates in the country — there isn’t as much room for improvement.

For those who are counting, Honolulu was home to 461,900 jobs, amounting to 73 percent of the state’s employment, at the end of the first quarter.

But when it comes to matching up against the highest cost of living of any state, we have a long way to go.

The average weekly wage in the state, according to the data, was $881 — which is $167 less than the national average. Weekly wages in Honolulu County were $918, while they were $794 on Kauai, $788 on Maui and $763 on the Big Island

Check out all of the data on the islands and see where we rank here.

To learn more about the origins of the high cost of living in the islands and what might be done about it, check out our ongoing Living Hawaii series.

Do you have a story about the human impact of the cost of living in the islands? If so, drop a note to epape@civilbeat.com.

And join Civil Beat’s Facebook group on the cost of living in Hawaii to discuss broader practical and political solutions for the islands.

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