DATE: May 18, 2001     NO: 01-56

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Department of Labor and Workforce Development

News Release

Employment Up, Unemployment Down in April

Alaska’s statewide unemployment rate moved lower in April, dropping six-tenths of a percentage point to 6.1%. Nearly 19,700 Alaskans were unemployed in April, which was a decline of almost 2,000 from March. Rachel Baker, a labor economist with the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, reported the drop. Last April, the statewide unemployment rate was 7.3% and 22,800 Alaskans were unemployed. The comparable national unemployment rate in April was 4.2%.


The urban areas of Alaska led the way in April’s jobless statistics. Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Juneau all had unemployment rates below the statewide average. Unemployment rates fell in these areas of Alaska as employers geared up for the construction and tourism seasons. The Bristol Bay Borough and the Skagway-Hoonah-Angoon Census Area also posted significant over-the-month drops in unemployment rates.

There were a few exceptions to the trend of lower unemployment rates in April. These included the Kodiak Island and North Slope boroughs, the Valdez-Cordova Census Area, and most areas of southwest Alaska. An employment slowdown related to the winter fisheries was the prime cause of higher unemployment in Kodiak and portions of southwest Alaska. The lowest unemployment rate in the state was the Sitka Borough at 3.8%. The 18.7% rate recorded in the Wade Hampton Census Area was the state’s highest unemployment rate in April. While Alaska’s most populous areas experienced relatively low unemployment rates, many areas of rural Alaska continued to post fairly high rates. Of the twenty-seven geographic areas where unemployment is measured, twelve had unemployment rates in excess of ten percent.

An increase of 4,200 wage and salary jobs accompanied April’s statewide unemployment rate decline. Employment gains were broadly based, with retailers, service providers, construction firms, and the transportation industry all contributing to job growth. State and local government employment also increased over the year, and combined, have added 1,200 jobs since last April. Manufacturing was the only sector to post job losses over the month. These losses were primarily in southwestern Alaska as seafood processors geared back from the winter fishery. April was also a difficult month for the lumber and wood products industry. A court order resulting in the halt of logging activity on the Tongass National Forest forestalled the normal seasonal increase in logging employment.


Labor Force by Region and Census Area
  Labor Force Unemployment Rate Employment
  1-Apr 1-Mar Apr-00 1-Apr 1-Mar Apr-00 1-Apr 1-Mar Apr-00 1-Apr 1-Mar Apr-00
 
Alaska Statewide 321,423 322,075 314,238 19,681 21,625 22,807 6.1 6.7 7.3 301,742 300,450 291,431
 
Anchorage/Mat-Su Region 176,922 177,551 171,797 8,206 9,137 9,958 4.6 5.1 5.8 168,716 168,414 161,839
Municipality of Anchorage 145,387 146,101 141,630 5,920 6,508 7,186 4.1 4.5 5.1 139,467 139,593 134,444
Mat-Su Borough 31,535 31,450 30,167 2,286 2,629 2,772 7.2 8.4 9.2 29,249 28,821 27,395
 
Gulf Coast Region 32,646 32,418 32,535 3,133 3,406 3,525 9.6 10.5 10.8 29,513 29,012 29,010
Kenai Peninsula Borough 21,054 21,036 21,135 2,135 2,438 2,539 10.1 11.6 12 18,919 18,598 18,596
Kodiak Island Borough 6,544 6,419 6,486 420 399 466 6.4 6.2 7.2 6,124 6,020 6,020
Valdez-Cordova 5,048 4,962 4,914 578 568 520 11.5 11.4 10.6 4,470 4,394 4,394
 
Interior Region 48,960 48,360 48,344 3,185 3,527 3,792 6.5 7.3 7.8 45,775 44,833 44,552
Denali Borough 1,154 1,142 1,148 112 122 134 9.7 10.7 11.7 1,042 1,020 1,014
Fairbanks North Star Borough 43,125 42,576 42,512 2,482 2,769 2,955 5.8 6.5 7 40,643 39,807 39,557
Southeast Fairbanks 2,568 2,543 2,544 273 296 311 10.6 11.6 12.2 2,295 2,247 2,233
Yukon-Koyukuk 2,114 2,099 2,140 318 340 392 15 16.2 18.3 1,796 1,759 1,748
 
Northern Region 9,293 9,401 8,764 994 1,015 1,019 10.7 10.8 11.6 8,299 8,386 7,745
Nome 3,496 3,537 3,336 384 393 432 11 11.1 12.9 3,112 3,144 2,904
North Slope Borough 3,482 3,511 3,274 276 271 282 7.9 7.7 8.6 3,206 3,240 2,992
Northwest Arctic Borough 2,315 2,353 2,154 334 351 305 14.4 14.9 14.2 1,981 2,002 1,849
 
Southeast Region 38,670 38,597 38,154 2,566 2,983 2,931 6.6 7.7 7.7 36,104 35,614 35,223
Haines Borough 1,249 1,250 1,211 158 174 147 12.7 13.9 12.1 1,091 1,076 1,064
Juneau Borough 16,763 16,601 16,412 762 818 802 4.5 4.9 4.9 16,001 15,783 15,610
Ketchikan Gateway Borough 7,480 7,487 7,422 551 652 662 7.4 8.7 8.9 6,929 6,835 6,760
Pr. of Wales-Outer Ketchikan 3,154 3,175 3,163 422 480 497 13.4 15.1 15.7 2,732 2,695 2,666
Sitka Borough 4,180 4,182 4,149 158 214 225 3.8 5.1 5.4 4,022 3,968 3,924
Skagway-Hoonah-Angoon 2,092 2,134 2,008 204 271 166 9.8 12.7 8.3 1,888 1,863 1,842
Wrangell-Petersburg 3,443 3,459 3,478 273 332 386 7.9 9.6 11.1 3,170 3,127 3,092
Yakutat Borough 308 310 310 37 43 45 12 13.9 14.5 271 267 265
 
Southwest Region 14,932 15,748 14,645 1,596 1,557 1,583 10.7 9.9 10.8 13,336 14,191 13,062
Aleutians East Borough 1,528 1,607 1,471 72 58 45 4.7 3.6 3.1 1,456 1,549 1,426
Aleutians West 2,002 2,101 1,926 165 146 126 8.2 6.9 6.5 1,837 1,955 1,800
Bethel 6,273 6,603 6,144 663 634 650 10.6 9.6 10.6 5,610 5,969 5,494
Bristol Bay Borough 483 527 509 41 57 77 8.5 10.8 15.1 442 470 432
Dillingham 1,792 1,899 1,784 166 169 192 9.3 8.9 10.8 1,626 1,730 1,592
Lake & Peninsula Borough 618 657 601 71 75 65 11.5 11.4 10.8 547 582 536
Wade Hampton 2,237 2,355 2,211 418 419 429 18.7 17.8 19.4 1,819 1,936 1,782

Alaska Nonagricultural Wage & Salary Employment
  preliminary revised   Changes from:  
  1-Apr 1-Mar Apr-00 1-Mar Apr-00
 
Total Nonagricultural Employment 280,700 276,500 276,000 4,200 4,700
Mining 11,100 11,100 9,500 0 1,600
Construction 12,800 12,000 12,400 800 400
Manufacturing 12,500 13,000 13,300 -500 -800
Transportation, Commun. & Utilities 26,000 25,600 26,100 400 -100
Trade 56,100 54,500 55,500 1,600 600
Finance, Insurance & Real Estate 12,500 12,400 12,500 100 0
Services & Misc. 72,900 71,700 70,700 1,200 2,200
Government 76,800 76,200 76,000 600 800

Seasonally Adjusted Unemployment Rates
 
April 2001: Alaska 5.8% U.S. 4.5%
March 2001: Alaska 5.8% U.S. 4.3%
April 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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