Employment Down 0.4 Percent, Unemployment Rate Unchanged
May 18, 2018
JUNEAU, Alaska — Preliminary estimates show April employment was down by 1,200, or 0.4 percent, compared to April 2017. While job losses continue, they are clearly moderating.
The biggest declines were in retail (-600), oil and gas (-500) and local government (-500). Industries that added jobs included health care (1,000) and manufacturing (400). It’s also noteworthy that construction, which has been hit hard in the last few years, had the same number of jobs as in April 2017, which hints at possible growth in coming months.
April was the 31st consecutive month Alaska has lost jobs, making this a longer downturn than in the 1980s, when a deep state recession led to 25 straight months of job loss. Although employment losses have lasted longer this time, they were deeper in the 1980s. For additional context, U.S. employment has been up from 1.5 percent to 2 percent over year-ago levels for the last 31 months.
Alaska’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 7.3 percent in April, where it has stayed in 2018 so far. Although the rate has slowly climbed since 2015 from a low of 6.5 percent, it is still just slightly above the 10-year average of 7.2 percent.
The comparable national unemployment rate was 3.9 percent, the lowest it has been since 2000.
Not-seasonally adjusted unemployment rates fell in most parts of the state in April, which is typical. Declines were largest in Skagway and the Denali Borough, which are both gearing up for a busy visitor season.
The Aleutians East Borough, supported by spring fisheries, had the state’s lowest rate. Kusilvak Census Area had the highest rate at 20.8 percent. Unemployment rates should continue to fall in nearly all boroughs and census areas as construction, fishing and visitor industries power up for the season.
For more information: Neal Fried, Economist, (907) 269-4861, Neal.Fried@Alaska.Gov