March 17, 2000             No: 00-41

Contact: Neal_Fried          John Boucher      

Department of Labor and Workforce Development

News Release

Alaska February Unemployment Another Record Low
Statewide Jobless Rate 7.5% in February

Alaska's statewide unemployment rate set a record low for the second consecutive month, despite a slight increase from January's 7.4% rate. February's 7.5% jobless rate bested the previous record low for February of 7.7%, set in February 1998. John Boucher, a labor economist with the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, reported the statistics.

There were 23,500 jobless Alaskans in February, an increase of about 200 from January. In February 1999, the unemployment rate was 8.6% and there were nearly 26,800 unemployed. The comparable national unemployment rate for February (civilian not seasonally adjusted) was 4.4%.

Unemployment claims data indicate that the improvement in the unemployment rate from the previous year can be largely attributed to lower levels of unemployment in Alaska's oil and gas sector. The number of weeks of unemployment benefits claimed by former oil industry employees is 40 percent below February 1999's level. That month, the oil industry was undergoing major consolidation as a result of low oil prices. Boucher said other industries are also showing declines in unemployment claims activity, but none so dramatic as in oil and gas.

In several areas, openings in Alaska's winter fisheries were credited with lowering February unemployment rates. "Kodiak and the Aleutian Islands experienced drops in their unemployment rates last month," Boucher commented. "Bottomfish openings, primarily pollock, put many of those areas' idled seafood processing workers back to work." Kodiak's unemployment rate dropped from 7.2% in January to 5.5% in February, and the Aleutians East Borough's rate dropped from 8.2% to 3.6%. Despite these drops, the postponement of the January opilio crab opening caused unemployment in western Alaska to be higher than last year. Southwest Alaska's regional unemployment rate was the only one that was higher than a year ago.

The highest unemployment rate was 20.4% in the Prince of Wales-Outer Ketchikan Census Area. The lowest was 3.6% in the Aleutians East Borough.

While unemployment increased in February, wage and salary employment statistics showed signs of a seasonal revival as 3,600 jobs were added. Seafood processors gained the most jobs, but mining, transportation, services and the public sector all added jobs. A small broad-based job expansion is typical in February as many industries begin rebounding from mid-winter low points.

 Labor Force by Region and Census Area

 

Labor Force

Unemployment

Rate

Employment

 

2/00

1/00

2/99

2/00

1/00

2/99

2/00

1/00

2/99

2/00

1/00

2/99

                         

Alaska Statewide

314,002

313,173

311,469

23,537

23,320

26,794

7.5

7.4

8.6

290,465

289,853

284,675

                         

Anch/Mat-Su Region

173,465

174,337

169,103

10,008

9,730

11,275

5.8

5.6

6.7

163,457

164,607

157,828

Municipality of Anchorage

143,434

144,040

140,600

7,214

7,005

8,006

5

4.9

5.7

136,220

137,035

132,594

Mat-Su Borough

30,031

30,297

28,503

2,794

2,725

3,269

9.3

9

11.5

27,237

27,572

25,234

                         

Gulf Coast Region

31,901

31,419

32,383

3,714

3,875

4,437

11.6

12.3

13.7

28,187

27,544

27,946

Kenai Peninsula Borough

20,735

20,304

21,171

2,856

2,833

3,445

13.8

14

16.3

17,879

17,471

17,726

Kodiak Island Borough

6,326

6,294

6,317

350

454

392

5.5

7.2

6.2

5,976

5,840

5,925

Valdez-Cordova

4,839

4,821

4,895

508

588

601

10.5

12.2

12.3

4,331

4,233

4,294

                         

Interior Region

47,943

47,744

47,505

3,852

3,833

4,554

8

8

9.6

44,091

43,911

42,951

Denali Borough

1,216

1,226

1,168

162

176

141

13.3

14.4

12.1

1,054

1,050

1,027

Fairbanks North Star Bor.

42,170

41,990

41,809

2,966

2,946

3,619

7

7

8.7

39,204

39,044

38,190

Southeast Fairbanks

2,514

2,532

2,506

350

377

398

13.9

14.9

15.9

2,164

2,155

2,108

Yukon-Koyukuk

2,043

1,996

2,022

373

333

396

18.3

16.7

19.6

1,670

1,663

1,626

                         

Northern Region

8,587

8,363

8,949

914

850

957

10.6

10.2

10.7

7,673

7,513

7,992

Nome

3,264

3,172

3,431

379

347

426

11.6

10.9

12.4

2,885

2,825

3,005

North Slope Borough

3,224

3,147

3,307

261

245

220

8.1

7.8

6.7

2,963

2,902

3,087

Northwest Arctic Borough

2,099

2,045

2,212

274

258

311

13.1

12.6

14.1

1,825

1,787

1,901

 

                       

Southeast Region

37,220

36,547

37,574

3,609

3,515

4,148

9.7

9.6

11

33,611

33,032

33,426

Haines Borough

1,157

1,144

1,211

171

175

230

14.8

15.3

19

986

969

981

Juneau Borough

15,798

15,473

15,876

930

861

1,090

5.9

5.6

6.9

14,868

14,612

14,786

Ketchikan Gateway Borough

6,910

6,788

6,966

770

753

859

11.1

11.1

12.3

6,140

6,035

6,107

Pr. of Wales-Outer Ketchikan

3,354

3,248

3,431

684

624

776

20.4

19.2

22.6

2,670

2,624

2,655

Sitka Borough

4,056

3,983

4,121

252

244

338

6.2

6.1

8.2

3,804

3,739

3,783

Skagway-Hoonah-Angoon

2,210

2,204

2,161

281

309

243

12.7

14

11.2

1,929

1,895

1,918

Wrangell-Petersburg

3,430

3,411

3,516

478

510

580

13.9

15

16.5

2,952

2,901

2,936

Yakutat Borough

305

297

292

43

40

31

14.1

13.5

10.6

262

257

261

 

                       

Southwest Region

14,883

14,763

15,953

1,439

1,517

1,422

9.7

10.3

8.9

13,444

13,246

14,531

Aleutians East Borough

1,573

1,627

1,674

56

133

35

3.6

8.2

2.1

1,517

1,494

1,639

Aleutians West

1,976

2,076

2,084

141

268

100

7.1

12.9

4.8

1,835

1,808

1,984

Bethel

6,119

5,985

6,618

552

500

601

9

8.4

9.1

5,567

5,485

6,017

Bristol Bay Borough

651

630

703

83

71

89

12.7

11.3

12.7

568

559

614

Dillingham

1,811

1,782

1,907

183

178

147

10.1

10

7.7

1,628

1,604

1,760

Lake & Peninsula Bor.

590

578

654

55

51

75

9.3

8.8

11.5

535

527

579

Wade Hampton

2,164

2,084

2,313

370

317

374

17.1

15.2

16.2

1,794

1,767

1,939

Benchmark: March 1999

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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