News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


DATE: August 20, 1999 CONTACT: Neal Fried
NO: 00-07 John Boucher

July Unemployment Rate 5.1%

Alaska's unemployment rate moved toward its seasonal low point in July, falling nearly an entire percentage point to 5.1%, according to Neal Fried, a labor economist with the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development.  Most of Alaska's seasonal industries were kicking into full gear and some were nearing their peak, adding 7,400 wage and salary jobs in July.  The addition of these new jobs was the most significant reason for the drop in the jobless rate.  Although July's unemployment rate came in slightly above last year's rate of 4.8%, it remains the second lowest jobless rate in more than 20 years–a sign that the labor market in many parts of the state was tight.  The comparable national unemployment rate in July was 4.5%.

Nearly every region of the state enjoyed jobless rates lower than the previous month.  Bristol Bay's strong salmon harvest in July of this year sliced both Dillingham's and Bristol Bay Borough's unemployment rates in half.  In fact, Bristol Bay's unemployment rate of 2.1% was the lowest in the state in July.  As the salmon season winds down, these unemployment numbers will climb again.  More than half of the areas in the state enjoyed jobless rates below five percent.  Other places in the state still show unemployment rates in the double digits.  Most of these are in rural Alaska and lack sizable visitor or fishing industries that appreciably influence their summer wage and salary employment numbers.  The highest rate was in the Northwest Arctic Borough, which had an unemployment rate of 14.2%

Only the oil industry and the public sector had fewer jobs in July than in June.  Most of the public sector losses were education related.  The oil industry's losses are still coming from the downsizing that is taking place in that industry.  The biggest job gains were related to the fishing, construction and visitor industries.  Beyond the seasonal gains, there were also 1,600 more jobs than there were a year ago.  Although most industries and the overall labor market are employing more workers than in 1998, the rate of growth has slowed because of the sizable losses in the oil industry.

Labor Force by Region and Census Area
 
Labor Force
Unemployment
Rate
Employment
7/99
6/99
7/98
7/99
6/99
7/98
7/99
6/99
7/98
7/99
6/99
7/98
Alaska Statewide 
330,471
325,934
331,255
16,848
19,565
15,808
5.1
6.0
4.8
313,623
306,369
315,447
Anchorage/Mat-Su
174,120
174,813
172,767
7,727
8,708
7,010
4.4
5.0
4.1
166,393
166,105
165,757
Municipality of Anchorage
143,592
143,401
143,317
5,614
6,263
5,254
3.9
4.4
3.7
137,978
137,138
138,063
Mat-Su Borough
30,528
31,412
29,450
2,113
2,445
1,756
6.9
7.8
6.0
28,415
28,967
27,694
Gulf Coast Region 
38,346
36,464
39,037
2,448
2,901
2,217
6.4
8.0
5.7
35,898
33,563
36,820
Kenai Peninsula Borough
24,404
23,184
24,773
1,867
2,113
1,657
7.7
9.1
6.7
22,537
21,071
23,116
Kodiak Island Borough
8,107
7,650
8,267
321
371
281
4.0
4.8
3.4
7,786
7,279
7,986
Valdez-Cordova 
5,837
5,630
5,998
261
417
279
4.5
7.4
4.7
5,576
5,213
5,719
Interior Region 
51,280
51,039
50,796
2,526
3,018
2,478
4.9
5.9
4.9
48,754
48,021
48,318
Denali Borough
1,228
1,206
1,215
39
35
37
3.2
2.9
3.0
1,189
1,171
1,178
Fairbanks North Star Bor.
45,439
45,234
45,021
2,078
2,525
2,048
4.6
5.6
4.5
43,361
42,709
42,973
Southeast Fairbanks 
2,498
2,436
2,458
169
142
150
6.8
5.8
6.1
2,329
2,294
2,308
Yukon-Koyukuk 
2,115
2,163
2,102
240
316
243
11.3
14.6
11.6
1,875
1,847
1,859
Northern Region 
8,405
8,450
8,988
939
1,040
765
11.2
12.3
8.5
7,466
7,410
8,223
Nome 
3,192
3,215
3,417
401
445
343
12.6
13.8
10.0
2,791
2,770
3,074
North Slope Borough
3,167
3,187
3,403
246
288
186
7.8
9.0
5.5
2,921
2,899
3,217
Northwest Arctic Borough
2,046
2,048
2,168
291
307
236
14.2
15.0
10.9
1,755
1,741
1,932
Southeast Region 
41,869
40,264
43,097
1,969
2,433
2,170
4.7
6.0
5.0
39,900
37,831
40,927
Haines Borough
1,198
1,173
1,237
58
93
68
4.8
7.9
5.5
1,140
1,080
1,169
Juneau Borough
18,192
17,342
18,651
764
817
774
4.2
4.7
4.1
17,428
16,525
17,877
Ketchikan Gateway Borough
7,822
7,496
8,041
383
443
411
4.9
5.9
5.1
7,439
7,053
7,630
Pr. of Wales-Outer Ketchikan
3,476
3,470
3,686
273
433
401
7.9
12.5
10.9
3,203
3,037
3,285
Sitka Borough
4,754
4,571
4,872
192
245
192
4.0
5.4
3.9
4,562
4,326
4,680
Skagway-Hoonah-Angoon 
2,359
2,256
2,424
109
123
116
4.6
5.5
4.8
2,250
2,133
2,308
Wrangell-Petersburg 
3,725
3,613
3,810
169
242
163
4.5
6.7
4.3
3,556
3,371
3,647
Yakutat Borough
343
341
375
21
36
45
6.1
10.6
12.0
322
305
330
Southwest Region 
16,452
14,904
16,570
1,240
1,464
1,169
7.5
9.8
7.1
15,212
13,440
15,401
Aleutians East Borough
1,772
1,560
1,776
49
38
32
2.8
2.4
1.8
1,723
1,522
1,744
Aleutians West 
2,647
2,319
2,631
200
157
154
7.6
6.8
5.9
2,447
2,162
2,477
Bethel 
6,609
6,039
6,658
533
671
507
8.1
11.1
7.6
6,076
5,368
6,151
Bristol Bay Borough
632
573
639
13
26
12
2.1
4.5
1.9
619
547
627
Dillingham 
1,850
1,718
1,899
87
160
114
4.7
9.3
6.0
1,763
1,558
1,785
Lake & Peninsula Bor.
654
597
661
37
52
37
5.7
8.7
5.6
617
545
624
Wade Hampton 
2,289
2,099
2,304
321
360
312
14.0
17.2
13.5
1,968
1,739
1,992

Benchmark: March 1998

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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