DATE: August 17, 2001     NO: 01-75

CONTACT: 

Neal Fried 

PHONE:

(907) 269-4861

Department of Labor and Workforce Development

News Release

Unemployment Falls to 5% in July

Alaska’s unemployment rate fell again in July, dropping six tenths of a percentage point to 5.0%. That meant 17,032 were unemployed statewide. With the construction, visitor, and fishing industries kicking into high gear, wage and salary employment grew by 4,100 to a total of 292,100. These new, seasonal jobs are the most significant reason for the decline in the jobless rate.

From a historical perspective, July’s unemployment rate remains very low. "This is a sign that Alaska’s job market remains healthy for job seekers and often presents a challenge for employers," said Neal Fried, labor economist with the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development. The comparable national unemployment rate for July was 4.7%.

All regions of the state enjoyed unemployment rates lower than the previous month. Fishing activity was the reason underlying the drop in unemployment rates in the Southwest and Gulf Coast regions. Kodiak’s unemployment rate was cut by more than half, from 9.7% in June, to 4.5% in July. What these figures fail to show is the fact that weak salmon harvests in some areas combined with poor prices statewide. This resulted in depressed earnings in the harvest sector that ultimately will affect spending and employment.

The visitor industry also had a positive effect on statewide employment, with strong influences on the Kenai Peninsula, Southeast Alaska, and other areas. The 900-job gain in the construction industry is also a big plus in the jobless picture around the state. The oil industry too is giving a boost to job markets in Anchorage/MatSu, the Kenai Peninsula, Fairbanks and the North Slope.

Despite July’s lower statewide rate, unemployment in many rural area job markets remains high. For example, the Northwest Arctic Borough’s jobless rate stood at 14.3%. The effects of the decline in the timber industry continue to impact Southeast Alaska, as in the Yakutat Borough and Prince of Wales-Outer Ketchikan.


Labor Force by Region and Census Area
  Labor Force Unemployment Rate Employment
  1-Jul 1-Jun Jul-00 1-Jul 1-Jun Jul-00 1-Jul 1-Jun Jul-00 1-Jul 1-Jun Jul-00
 
Alaska Statewide 339,594 334,864 333,486 17,032 18,594 17,670 5 5.6 5.3 322,562 316,270 315,816
 
Anchorage/Mat-Su Region 180,808 181,162 176,300 7,432 7,690 7,997 4.1 4.2 4.5 173,376 173,472 168,303
Municipality of Anchorage 147,357 147,653 143,871 5,388 5,491 5,886 3.7 3.7 4.1 141,969 142,162 137,985
Mat-Su Borough 33,451 33,509 32,429 2,044 2,199 2,111 6.1 6.6 6.5 31,407 31,310 30,318
 
Gulf Coast Region 37,529 36,267 37,465 2,275 2,720 2,226 6.1 7.5 5.9 35,254 33,547 35,239
Kenai Peninsula Borough 24,221 23,155 24,212 1,622 1,650 1,623 6.7 7.1 6.7 22,599 21,505 22,589
Kodiak Island Borough 7,660 7,706 7,645 345 745 333 4.5 9.7 4.4 7,315 6,961 7,312
Valdez-Cordova 5,648 5,407 5,608 308 326 271 5.5 6 4.8 5,340 5,081 5,337
 
Interior Region 52,184 51,571 51,457 2,624 2,882 2,880 5 5.6 5.6 49,560 48,689 48,577
Denali Borough 1,176 1,148 1,140 48 40 35 4.1 3.5 3.1 1,128 1,108 1,105
Fairbanks North Star Borough 46,100 45,529 45,460 2,096 2,299 2,329 4.5 5 5.1 44,004 43,230 43,131
Southeast Fairbanks 2,691 2,661 2,672 207 220 237 7.7 8.3 8.9 2,484 2,441 2,435
Yukon-Koyukuk 2,217 2,232 2,185 273 322 279 12.3 14.4 12.8 1,944 1,910 1,906
 
Northern Region 9,086 9,206 8,698 1,025 1,149 987 11.3 12.5 11.3 8,061 8,057 7,711
Nome 3,435 3,482 3,273 413 461 382 12 13.2 11.7 3,022 3,021 2,891
North Slope Borough 3,403 3,432 3,309 289 320 330 8.5 9.3 10 3,114 3,112 2,979
Northwest Arctic Borough 2,247 2,292 2,116 322 368 275 14.3 16.1 13 1,925 1,924 1,841
 
Southeast Region 43,295 41,550 42,851 2,081 2,250 2,069 4.8 5.4 4.8 41,214 39,300 40,782
Haines Borough 1,308 1,265 1,277 63 78 45 4.8 6.2 3.5 1,245 1,187 1,232
Juneau Borough 18,997 18,143 18,835 732 726 761 3.9 4 4 18,265 17,417 18,074
Ketchikan Gateway Borough 8,330 8,024 8,204 420 482 377 5 6 4.6 7,910 7,542 7,827
Pr. of Wales-Outer Ketchikan 3,415 3,312 3,438 296 338 352 8.7 10.2 10.2 3,119 2,974 3,086
Sitka Borough 4,776 4,550 4,724 184 172 180 3.9 3.8 3.8 4,592 4,378 4,544
Skagway-Hoonah-Angoon 2,305 2,218 2,260 149 162 127 6.5 7.3 5.6 2,156 2,056 2,133
Wrangell-Petersburg 3,822 3,699 3,773 204 249 193 5.3 6.7 5.1 3,618 3,450 3,580
Yakutat Borough 344 340 341 34 45 35 9.9 13.2 10.3 310 295 306
 
Southwest Region 16,692 15,109 16,716 1,595 1,904 1,511 9.6 12.6 9 15,097 13,205 15,205
Aleutians East Borough 1,701 1,511 1,692 53 70 32 3.1 4.6 1.9 1,648 1,441 1,660
Aleutians West 2,237 2,107 2,257 157 288 162 7 13.7 7.2 2,080 1,819 2,095
Bethel 7,093 6,347 7,085 743 792 689 10.5 12.5 9.7 6,350 5,555 6,396
Bristol Bay Borough 526 475 534 26 38 31 4.9 8 5.8 500 437 503
Dillingham 1,975 1,773 1,945 135 163 91 6.8 9.2 4.7 1,840 1,610 1,854
Lake & Peninsula Borough 668 608 672 48 66 48 7.2 10.9 7.1 620 542 624
Wade Hampton 2,492 2,288 2,533 433 487 459 17.4 21.3 18.1 2,059 1,801 2,074

Seasonally Adjusted Unemployment Rates
 
July 2001:   Alaska 6.2% U.S. 4.5%
June 2001:   Alaska 5.8% U.S. 4.5%
July 2000:   Alaska 5.5% 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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