News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

DATE: November 19, 1999 CONTACT: Neal Fried
NO: 00-19 John Boucher

Statewide Jobless Rate 5.4% in October

Alaska's statewide unemployment rate increased nearly a full percentage point from 4.5% in September to 5.4% in October. John Boucher, a labor economist with the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, reported the increase. More than 17,200 Alaskans were unemployed in October, a significant, but not unexpected, increase from September, when about 14,300 were unemployed. In October, 1998, the unemployment rate was 5.3% and the number of jobless Alaskans was near 16,900. The comparable national unemployment rate (civilian not seasonally adjusted) in October was 3.8%.

The unemployment rate in most areas of the state moved in concert with the statewide unemployment rate, but rural Alaska generally experienced larger increases. "Rural Alaska tends to rely on seasonal industries such as fishing and tourism for employment opportunities," Boucher said. "When summer ends, it usually means higher unemployment rates in rural Alaska."

The most dramatic changes in unemployment rates in October were in boroughs where the visitor and/or fishing industries play key roles. "The Denali Borough's unemployment rate increased from 4.4% in September to 9.3% in October as visitor activity around Denali National Park shut down for the winter," Boucher said. In the Haines Borough the unemployment rate more than doubled, increasing from 3.0% in September to 8.8% in October as seafood processing and tourism-related activity slowed. The lowest unemployment rate in the state was in the Lake and Peninsula Borough at 3.8% and the state's highest unemployment rate was 12.2% in the Northwest Arctic Borough.

Alaska's wage and salary job count began a broad, steep seasonal decline in October. Over-the-month job losses totaled 11,100. With the exceptions of government and mining, all of the state's major industries lost ground in October. The seafood processing industry, followed by tourism-related job losses at hotels and eating and drinking establishments, led October's job loss. The construction industry's job count also dwindled as road-building activity slowed due to the onset of colder weather. Government's employment numbers increased slightly because the public education sector continued staffing up for the school year.

Labor Force by Region and Census Area

Labor Force

Unemployment

Rate

Employment

10/99

9/99

10/98

10/99

9/99

10/98

10/99

9/99

10/98

10/99

9/99

10/98

Alaska Statewide

316,715

318,375

317,156

17,226

14,334

16,902

5.4

4.5

5.3

299,489

304,041

300,254

Anch./Mat-Su Region

173,981

171,010

172,732

7,767

6,639

7,251

4.5

3.9

4.2

166,214

164,371

165,481

Municipality of Anchorage

142,961

140,217

142,864

5,782

4,921

5,439

4.0

3.5

3.8

137,179

135,296

137,425

Mat-Su Borough

31,020

30,793

29,868

1,985

1,718

1,812

6.4

5.6

6.1

29,035

29,075

28,056

Gulf Coast Region

33,034

35,183

33,325

2,915

2,286

2,828

8.8

6.5

8.5

30,119

32,897

30,497

Kenai Peninsula Borough

21,028

22,409

21,208

2,119

1,756

2,062

10.1

7.8

9.7

18,909

20,653

19,146

Kodiak Island Borough

6,845

7,396

6,976

313

261

362

4.6

3.5

5.2

6,532

7,135

6,614

Valdez-Cordova

5,161

5,378

5,141

483

269

404

9.4

5.0

7.9

4,678

5,109

4,737

Interior Region

48,594

48,970

48,915

2,710

2,129

2,878

5.6

4.3

5.9

45,884

46,841

46,037

Denali Borough

1,234

1,194

1,245

115

52

123

9.3

4.4

9.9

1,119

1,142

1,122

Fairbanks North Star Bor.

42,980

43,377

43,267

2,171

1,717

2,322

5.1

4.0

5.4

40,809

41,660

40,945

Southeast Fairbanks

2,420

2,397

2,437

228

160

238

9.4

6.7

9.8

2,192

2,237

2,199

Yukon-Koyukuk

1,961

2,002

1,966

196

200

195

10.0

10.0

9.9

1,765

1,802

1,771

Northern Region

8,251

8,065

8,972

754

726

684

9.1

9.0

7.6

7,497

7,339

8,288

Nome

3,067

2,983

3,363

265

240

265

8.6

8.0

7.9

2,802

2,743

3,098

North Slope Borough

3,177

3,111

3,438

244

240

196

7.7

7.7

5.7

2,933

2,871

3,242

Northwest Arctic Borough

2,007

1,971

2,171

245

246

223

12.2

12.5

10.3

1,762

1,725

1,948

Southeast Region

39,219

41,015

39,374

2,081

1,646

2,315

5.3

4.0

5.9

37,138

39,369

37,059

Haines Borough

1,163

1,159

1,153

102

35

95

8.8

3.0

8.2

1,061

1,124

1,058

Juneau Borough

17,023

17,886

17,104

801

689

916

4.7

3.9

5.4

16,222

17,197

16,188

Ketchikan Gateway Bor.

7,350

7,680

7,418

426

340

509

5.8

4.4

6.9

6,924

7,340

6,909

Pr. of Wales-Outer Ktch.

3,214

3,353

3,227

233

193

252

7.2

5.8

7.8

2,981

3,160

2,975

Sitka Borough

4,448

4,653

4,420

201

151

183

4.5

3.2

4.1

4,247

4,502

4,237

Skagway-Hoonah-Angoon

2,188

2,280

2,189

94

60

99

4.3

2.6

4.5

2,094

2,220

2,090

Wrangell-Petersburg

3,522

3,666

3,541

212

157

238

6.0

4.3

6.7

3,310

3,509

3,303

Yakutat Borough

313

339

321

13

21

22

4.2

6.2

6.9

300

318

299

Southwest Region

13,636

14,132

13,838

999

907

946

7.3

6.4

6.8

12,637

13,225

12,892

Aleutians East Borough

1,495

1,521

1,497

64

23

37

4.3

1.5

2.5

1,431

1,498

1,460

Aleutians West

2,126

2,202

2,160

94

75

87

4.4

3.4

4.0

2,032

2,127

2,073

Bethel

5,495

5,740

5,601

448

458

452

8.2

8.0

8.1

5,047

5,282

5,149

Bristol Bay Borough

555

557

568

41

19

43

7.4

3.4

7.6

514

538

525

Dillingham

1,574

1,622

1,607

109

89

113

6.9

5.5

7.0

1,465

1,533

1,494

Lake & Peninsula Bor.

532

553

545

20

17

22

3.8

3.1

4.0

512

536

523

Wade Hampton

1,858

1,937

1,859

223

226

191

12.0

11.7

10.3

1,635

1,711

1,668

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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