DATE: April 20, 2001      NO: 01-50

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Department of Labor and Workforce Development

News Release

Unemployment Begins Seasonal Decline

March Unemployment for Selected Areas

Alaska’s statewide unemployment rate began a seasonal decline in March, dropping to 6.7% from the 7.5% rate recorded in February. The number of unemployed Alaskans dropped by more than 2,500 to just over 21,600 in March. In March 2000, there were more than 25,000 unemployed Alaskans. The comparable national unemployment rate in March was 4.6%.

March’s seasonal unemployment decline was felt across most of the state as rates fell in nearly every area. Exceptions were noted in Bethel, the Aleutians West Census Area, and Kodiak, where the March rate remained unchanged from February. The Wade Hampton Census Area had the highest unemployment rate in the state at 17.9%, while the Aleutians East Borough posted the lowest rate at 3.6%.

Brisk construction activity contributed to the relatively low statewide unemployment rate. Although 2000 was a good year for Alaska’s construction industry, this year’s season is shaping up to be even better. As an indication, the number of unemployment weeks paid for the construction industry in March 2001 was 13.5% below the March 2000 statewide level. Significant over-the-year declines in weeks paid to unemployed construction workers took place in Anchorage and Fairbanks.

A statewide increase of 3,100 wage and salary jobs accompanied March’s unemployment decline. Every major sector of Alaska’s economy except seafood processing added jobs last month. Seasonal gains in mining, construction, and transportation contributed to job growth. Employment growth in the services industry was broad-based while retail trade’s depended largely on additional jobs in eating and drinking places.

Over-the-year employment growth in March was strong for Alaska’s mining and services industries. Nearly 1,600 jobs have been added to the state’s oil and gas sector since March 2000. The manufacturing and finance sectors were the only over-the-year job losers in March. Additional job losses in seafood processing, particularly in the Southwest region, and the continuing downward trend in the number of lumber and wood products jobs combined to pull down manufacturing employment in March.


Labor Force by Region and Census Area

 
Labor Force
Unemployment
Rate
Employment
 
03/01
02/01
03/00
03/01
02/01
03/00
03/01
02/01
03/00
03/01
02/01
03/00
Alaska Statewide
322,077
322,086
314,778
21,627
24,136
25,049
6.7
7.5
8.0
300,450
297,950
289,729
 
Anchorage/
Mat-Su Region
177,647
177,261
171,901
9,139
10,190
10,788
5.1
5.7
6.3
168,508
167,071
161,113
Municipality
of Anchorage
146,105
145,948
141,857
6,509
7,209
7,767
4.5
4.9
5.5
139,596
138,739
134,090
Mat-Su Borough
31,542
31,313
30,044
2,630
2,981
3,021
8.3
9.5
10.1
28,912
28,332
27,023
 
Gulf Coast Region
32,415
32,643
32,441
3,406
3,876
3,928
10.5
11.9
12.1
29,009
28,767
28,513
Kenai Peninsula
Borough
21,034
21,193
21,230
2,438
2,753
2,952
11.6
13.0
13.9
18,596
18,440
18,278
Kodiak Island
Borough
6,419
6,365
6,337
399
396
420
6.2
6.2
6.6
6,020
5,969
5,917
Valdez-Cordova
4,962
5,084
4,875
568
727
556
11.4
14.3
11.4
4,394
4,357
4,319
 
Interior Region
48,503
48,294
47,702
3,528
3,894
4,179
7.3
8.1
8.8
44,975
44,400
43,523
Denali Borough
1,145
1,147
1,162
122
137
172
10.7
11.9
14.8
1,023
1,010
990
Fairbanks North Star Borough
42,703
42,438
41,915
2,770
3,016
3,271
6.5
7.1
7.8
39,933
39,422
38,644
Southeast Fairbanks
2,550
2,576
2,536
296
350
354
11.6
13.6
14.0
2,254
2,226
2,182
Yukon-Koyukuk
2,104
2,133
2,089
340
391
382
16.2
18.3
18.3
1,764
1,742
1,707
 
Northern Region
9,383
9,490
8,815
1,014
1,091
1,027
10.8
11.5
11.7
8,369
8,399
7,788
Nome
3,530
3,582
3,356
392
433
436
11.1
12.1
13.0
3,138
3,149
2,920
North Slope Borough
3,504
3,519
3,302
271
274
293
7.7
7.8
8.9
3,233
3,245
3,009
Northwest
Arctic Borough
2,348
2,389
2,157
350
384
298
14.9
16.1
13.8
1,998
2,005
1,859
 
Southeast Region
38,442
38,131
37,990
2,983
3,431
3,485
7.8
9.0
9.2
35,459
34,700
34,505
Haines Borough
1,245
1,247
1,247
174
199
205
14.0
16.0
16.4
1,071
1,048
1,042
Juneau Borough
16,533
16,329
16,267
818
951
975
4.9
5.8
6.0
15,715
15,378
15,292
Ketchikan Gateway
Borough
7,457
7,352
7,384
652
693
762
8.7
9.4
10.3
6,805
6,659
6,622
Pr. of Wales-
Outer Ketchikan
3,163
3,187
3,215
480
561
604
15.2
17.6
18.8
2,683
2,626
2,611
Sitka Borough
4,164
4,133
4,077
213
267
233
5.1
6.5
5.7
3,951
3,866
3,844
Skagway-
Hoonah-Angoon
2,126
2,119
2,047
271
304
242
12.7
14.3
11.8
1,855
1,815
1,805
Wrangell-Petersburg
3,445
3,460
3,451
332
413
422
9.6
11.9
12.2
3,113
3,047
3,029
Yakutat Borough
309
305
301
43
44
42
13.9
14.4
14.0
266
261
259
 
Southwest Region
15,688
16,267
15,930
1,557
1,654
1,642
9.9
10.2
10.3
14,131
14,613
14,288
Aleutians East
Borough
1,600
1,656
1,617
58
61
58
3.6
3.7
3.6
1,542
1,595
1,559
Aleutians West
2,093
2,153
2,131
146
140
163
7.0
6.5
7.6
1,947
2,013
1,968
Bethel
6,578
6,791
6,655
634
644
645
9.6
9.5
9.7
5,944
6,147
6,010
Bristol Bay Borough
525
559
561
57
75
88
10.9
13.4
15.7
468
484
473
Dillingham
1,892
1,979
1,933
169
198
191
8.9
10.0
9.9
1,723
1,781
1,742
Lake & Peninsula
Borough
655
699
654
75
99
68
11.5
14.2
10.4
580
600
586
Wade Hampton
2,346
2,431
2,377
419
438
428
17.9
18.0
18.0
1,927
1,993
1,949
 
Benchmark:  March 2000

Alaska Nonagricultural Wage & Salary Employment
  Preliminary Revised   Changes From:
 
03/01
02/01
03/00
02/01
03/00
Total Nonagricultural Employment 276,600 273,500 271,900 3,100 4,700
Mining 11,100 11,000 9,500 100 1,600
Construction 12,100 11,600 11,700 500 400
Manufacturing 13,100 13,200 13,600 -100 -500
Transportation, Commun. & Utilities 25,600 25,200 25,600 400 0
Trade 54,400 53,700 53,800 700 600
Finance, Insurance & Real Estate 12,400 12,400 12,500 0 -100
Services & Misc. 71,800 71,000 69,300 800 2,500
Government 76,100 75,400 75,900 700 200

Seasonally Adjusted Unemployment Rates

March 2001:  Alaska 5.8%  U.S. 4.3%
February 2001:  Alaska 5.8%  U.S. 4.2%
March 2000:  Alaska 6.9%  U.S. 4.0%

Benchmark: March 2000 Source: Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Research and Analysis Section.

  • Comparisons between different time periods are not as meaningful as other time series produced by Research and 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 Alaska 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.

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