February 18, 2000             No: 00-34

Contact: Neal_Fried          John Boucher      

Department of Labor and Workforce Development

News Release

Alaska Unemployment a Record Low in January

Despite a relatively sharp seasonal increase, Alaska's 7.4% unemployment rate set a record low for the month of January. The previous all-time record low of 7.8% was posted in January 1998.

"Up until 1998, it was common to have unemployment near ten percent in January," said John Boucher, a labor economist with the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development. "The last three years have all seen January unemployment in the seven to eight percent range."

The state's unemployment rate increased one and one-half percentage points from December's 5.9% rate. The number of

1999 the unemployment rate was 7.9% and there were more than 24,500 unemployed Alaskans. The comparable national unemployment rate (civilian not seasonally adjusted) in January was 4.5%.

While statewide unemployment was at an all time low for January, it was noted that urban areas of Alaska are primarily responsible for the lower rate. Of 27 regional unemployment rates produced, 17 posted unemployment exceeding ten percent. The highest unemployment rate in the state was 19.2%, posted in the Prince of Wales-Outer Ketchikan census area. This area was affected by the recent closure of a sawmill on Annette Island and layoffs in the logging industry. The lowest unemployment rate was in Anchorage, where 4.9% of the labor force was unemployed.

One notable exception to the trend toward higher unemployment was Kodiak, which benefited from winter groundfish openings. Kodiak's unemployment rate fell from 11.0% in December to 7.2% in January. The Lake and Peninsula Borough was the only other area to lower its unemployment rate in January, also due to winter fishing activity.

Wage and salary employment statistics corroborated the increasing statewide unemployment rate as 6,700 jobs were lost compared to December. "Retail trade, services, construction, and government were the largest job losers in January," Boucher said. "Most of these losses can be accounted for by seasonal fluctuations."

Alaska's seafood processors were the major exception to the pattern of job losses. Winter fisheries helped boost January's employment in Kodiak and western Alaska.

Labor Force by Region and Census Area

Labor Force

Unemployment

Rate

Employment

1/00

12/99

1/99

1/00

12/99

1/99

1/00

12/99

1/99

1/00

12/99

1/99

Alaska Statewide

313,171

312,652

310,024

23,318

18,320

24,523

7.4

5.9

7.9

289,853

294,332

285,501

Anchorage/Mat-Su Region

174,488

175,542

170,520

9,731

7,815

10,116

5.6

4.5

5.9

164,757

167,727

160,404

Municipality of Anchorage

143,976

145,223

141,775

7,005

5,701

7,247

4.9

3.9

5.1

136,971

139,522

134,528

Mat-Su Borough

30,512

30,319

28,745

2,726

2,114

2,869

8.9

7.0

10.0

27,786

28,205

25,876

Gulf Coast Region

31,318

31,045

31,626

3,874

3,409

4,025

12.4

11.0

12.7

27,444

27,636

27,601

Kenai Peninsula Borough

20,240

19,727

20,429

2,832

2,197

2,921

14.0

11.1

14.3

17,408

17,530

17,508

Kodiak Island Borough

6,273

6,580

6,284

454

721

432

7.2

11.0

6.9

5,819

5,859

5,852

Valdez-Cordova

4,805

4,737

4,913

588

490

672

12.2

10.3

13.7

4,217

4,247

4,241

Interior Region

47,593

48,556

47,504

3,832

2,930

4,247

8.1

6.0

8.9

43,761

45,626

43,257

Denali Borough

1,222

1,220

1,178

176

129

144

14.4

10.6

12.2

1,046

1,091

1,034

Fairbanks North Star Borough

41,856

42,876

41,840

2,946

2,308

3,378

7.0

5.4

8.1

38,910

40,568

38,462

Southeast Fairbanks

2,525

2,519

2,500

377

280

377

14.9

11.1

15.1

2,148

2,239

2,123

Yukon-Koyukuk

1,990

1,940

1,985

333

212

347

16.7

10.9

17.5

1,657

1,728

1,638

Northern Region

8,379

8,102

8,857

850

688

906

10.1

8.5

10.2

7,529

7,414

7,951

Nome

3,178

3,057

3,396

347

270

407

10.9

8.8

12.0

2,831

2,787

2,989

North Slope Borough

3,153

3,058

3,287

245

195

216

7.8

6.4

6.6

2,908

2,863

3,071

Northwest Arctic Borough

2,049

1,986

2,174

258

223

283

12.6

11.2

13.0

1,791

1,763

1,891

Southeast Region

36,671

36,881

36,935

3,515

2,390

3,796

9.6

6.5

10.3

33,156

34,491

33,139

Haines Borough

1,148

1,152

1,170

175

140

198

15.2

12.2

16.9

973

1,012

972

Juneau Borough

15,528

15,950

15,694

861

693

1,035

5.5

4.3

6.6

14,667

15,257

14,659

Ketchikan Gateway Borough

6,810

6,769

6,856

753

468

802

11.1

6.9

11.7

6,057

6,301

6,054

Pr. of Wales-Outer Ketchikan

3,258

3,064

3,303

624

324

671

19.2

10.6

20.3

2,634

2,740

2,632

Sitka Borough

3,997

4,084

4,030

244

180

279

6.1

4.4

6.9

3,753

3,904

3,751

Skagway-Hoonah-Angoon

2,211

2,207

2,147

309

228

246

14.0

10.3

11.5

1,902

1,979

1,901

Wrangell-Petersburg

3,422

3,361

3,437

510

332

527

14.9

9.9

15.3

2,912

3,029

2,910

Yakutat Borough

298

294

296

40

25

38

13.4

8.5

12.8

258

269

258

Southwest Region

14,723

12,526

14,582

1,517

1,088

1,433

10.3

8.7

9.8

13,206

11,438

13,149

Aleutians East Borough

1,623

1,386

1,594

133

96

110

8.2

6.9

6.9

1,490

1,290

1,484

Aleutians West

2,071

1,712

2,043

268

150

248

12.9

8.8

12.1

1,803

1,562

1,795

Bethel

5,968

5,139

5,940

500

403

495

8.4

7.8

8.3

5,468

4,736

5,445

Bristol Bay Borough

629

532

626

71

49

71

11.3

9.2

11.3

558

483

555

Dillingham

1,777

1,507

1,732

178

122

140

10.0

8.1

8.1

1,599

1,385

1,592

Lake & Peninsula Borough

577

501

576

51

46

52

8.8

9.2

9.0

526

455

524

Wade Hampton

2,079

1,749

2,071

317

223

317

15.2

12.8

15.3

1,762

1,526

1,754

Benchmark: March 1998

P/ denotes preliminary estimates

R/ denotes revised estimates

Comparisons between different time periods are not as meaningful as other time series produced by Research & Analysis.

The official definition of unemployment currently in place excludes anyone who has not made an active attempt to find work in the four-week period up to and including the week that includes the 12th of the reference month. Due to the scarcity of employment opportunities in rural Alaskan locations, many individuals do not meet the official definition of unemployed because they have not conducted an active job search. These individuals are considered not in the labor force.

Source: Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Research and Analysis Section.
 

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