DATE: Sept. 21, 2001     NO: 01-79

CONTACT: 

Dan Robinson 

PHONE:

(907) 465-2054

Department of Labor and Workforce Development

News Release

Unemployment Steady at 5.0 Percent in August

August unemployment for selected areas (graph)Alaska’s unemployment rate for August was unchanged over the month, holding at 5.0%. The unemployed numbered 16,639 in August, down slightly from 17,032 in July. The comparable national unemployment rate for August was 4.9%.

August’s unemployment rate is slightly higher than in August 2000, but it is still low relative to historic levels. Only three times since 1978 has the state had a lower unemployment rate in August. According to Dan Robinson, a labor economist with the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, the rising national unemployment rate may soon have an effect on Alaska’s labor force. “Layoffs and higher unemployment in the Lower 48 may bring more job seekers to Alaska and make migration out of the state less attractive than it has been in recent years. Both factors would ease what has been a very tight labor market in the state.”

Most changes in regional unemployment numbers were small. The Anchorage/MatSu region’s unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.1%. The Gulf Coast region’s rate increased three tenths of a percentage point to 6.4%. The Interior, Northern and Southeast regions all had slightly lower unemployment rates for the month.

Kodiak saw a big increase, jumping from 4.5% in July to 8.1% in August. Such dramatic swings are not unusual for Kodiak, due to the fluctuations inherent in the fishing industry. As further illustration, July’s rate of 4.5% was a drop of over 5 percentage points from the previous month’s rate of 9.7%.

The Wade Hampton Census Area recorded the month’s highest rate at 17.7%, up from last month’s rate of 17.4%. The Nome, Yukon-Koyukuk, and Prince of Wales-Outer Ketchikan census areas all saw decreases in their unemployment rates. At 2.7%, the Aleutians East Borough had the state’s lowest rate for the month.

Wage and salary employment grew by about 1,200 jobs over the month and is up by 1.8% over the year. The construction industry led the way, adding more than 800 jobs.


Labor Force by Region and Census Area

  Labor Force Unemployment Rate Employment
  08-01 07-01 08-00 08-01 07-01 08-00 08-01 07-01 08-00 08-01 07-01 08-00
 
Alaska Statewide ......... 336,013 339,594 329,554 16,639 17,032 15,873 5 5 4.8 319,374 322,562 313,681
 
Anch.-MatSu Region 180,478 181,098 176,326 7,321 7,435 7,303 4.1 4.1 4.1 173,157 173,663 169,023
Municipality of Anchorage 145,915 147,274 143,471 5,351 5,388 5,428 3.7 3.7 3.8 140,564 141,886 138,043
MatSu Bor. .............. 34,563 33,824 32,855 1,970 2,047 1,875 5.7 6.1 5.7 32,593 31,777 30,980
 
Gulf Coast Region ........ 36,744 37,493 36,185 2,365 2,273 1,993 6.4 6.1 5.5 34,379 35,220 34,192
Kenai Peninsula Bor. .... 23,533 24,197 23,377 1,495 1,620 1,459 6.4 6.7 6.2 22,038 22,577 21,918
Kodiak Island Bor. ...... 7,760 7,653 7,382 626 345 287 8.1 4.5 3.9 7,134 7,308 7,095
Valdez-Cordova .......... 5,451 5,643 5,426 244 308 247 4.5 5.5 4.6 5,207 5,335 5,179
 
Interior Region .......... 51,055 52,089 50,454 2,475 2,623 2,461 4.8 5 4.9 48,580 49,466 47,993
Denali Bor. ............. 1,153 1,174 1,129 48 48 37 4.2 4.1 3.3 1,105 1,126 1,092
Fairbanks North Star Bor. 45,140 46,015 44,592 2,006 2,095 1,980 4.4 4.6 4.4 43,134 43,920 42,612
Southeast Fairbanks ..... 2,647 2,687 2,629 212 207 223 8 7.7 8.5 2,435 2,480 2,406
Yukon-Koyukuk ........... 2,115 2,214 2,104 209 273 221 9.9 12.3 10.5 1,906 1,941 1,883
 
Northern Region .......... 8,984 9,127 8,611 983 1,026 925 10.9 11.2 10.7 8,001 8,101 7,686
Nome .................... 3,380 3,451 3,231 380 414 349 11.2 12 10.8 3,000 3,037 2,882
North Slope Bor. ........ 3,369 3,419 3,304 278 290 335 8.3 8.5 10.1 3,091 3,129 2,969
Northwest Arctic Bor. ... 2,236 2,256 2,076 326 322 241 14.6 14.3 11.6 1,910 1,934 1,835
 
Southeast Region ......... 42,812 43,099 42,498 1,952 2,080 1,868 4.6 4.8 4.4 40,860 41,019 40,630
Haines Bor. ............. 1,295 1,302 1,259 61 63 32 4.7 4.8 2.5 1,234 1,239 1,227
Juneau Bor. ............. 18,823 18,910 18,713 715 731 707 3.8 3.9 3.8 18,108 18,179 18,006
Ketchikan Gateway Bor. .. 8,294 8,292 8,174 452 420 376 5.4 5.1 4.6 7,842 7,872 7,798
Pr. of Wales-Outer Ketch 3,340 3,400 3,389 248 296 314 7.4 8.7 9.3 3,092 3,104 3,075
Sitka Bor. .............. 4,705 4,754 4,693 153 184 166 3.3 3.9 3.5 4,552 4,570 4,527
Skagway-Hoonah-Angoon ... 2,267 2,294 2,220 130 149 95 5.7 6.5 4.3 2,137 2,145 2,125
Wrangell-Petersburg ..... 3,745 3,805 3,724 158 204 157 4.2 5.4 4.2 3,587 3,601 3,567
Yakutat Bor. ............ 342 342 326 35 34 21 10.2 9.9 6.4 307 308 305
 
Southwest Region ......... 15,939 16,688 15,481 1,542 1,595 1,324 9.7 9.6 8.6 14,397 15,093 14,157
Aleutians East Bor. ..... 1,615 1,700 1,575 44 53 30 2.7 3.1 1.9 1,571 1,647 1,545
Aleutians West .......... 2,101 2,236 2,054 118 157 104 5.6 7 5.1 1,983 2,079 1,950
Bethel .................. 6,776 7,092 6,560 720 743 605 10.6 10.5 9.2 6,056 6,349 5,955
Bristol Bay Bor. ........ 513 526 500 36 26 31 7 4.9 6.2 477 500 469
Dillingham .............. 1,903 1,975 1,818 148 135 92 7.8 6.8 5.1 1,755 1,840 1,726
Lake & Peninsula Bor. ... 644 667 637 53 48 56 8.2 7.2 8.8 591 619 581
Wade Hampton ............ 2,386 2,492 2,338 422 433 407 17.7 17.4 17.4 1,964 2,059 1,931

Alaska Nonagricultural Wage & Salary Employment

  Preliminary Revised   Changes from  
  08-01 07-01 08-00 07-01 08-00
Total Nonagricultural Employment 309,800 308,500 304,200 1,300 5,600
Mining 12,000 11,800 10,800 200 1,200
Construction 18,900 18,100 18,200 800 700
Manufacturing 19,100 19,600 19,200 -500 -100
Transportation, Commun. & Utilities 29,900 29,700 30,200 200 -300
Trade 62,700 62,600 62,000 100 700
Finance, Insurance & Real Estate 13,300 13,100 13,200 200 100
Services & Misc. 82,200 82,000 79,100 200 3,100
Government 71,700 71,600 71,500 100 200

Seasonally Adjusted Unemployment Rates

Alaska U.S.
August 2001 6.7% 4.9%
July 2001 6.2% 4.5%
August 2000 6.5% 4.1%

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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