July employment up 0.5 percent from last year; unemployment rate at 6.3 percent
August 16, 2019
JUNEAU, Alaska—Alaska’s employment was up an estimated 0.5 percent in July, or 1,800 jobs, from July 2018. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 6.3 percent while the comparable national rate remained at 3.7 percent.
Job growth was widespread in Alaska’s private sector, although a few industries continued to lose jobs. Construction added the largest number of jobs over the year (600), followed by oil and gas (500). Manufacturing, which is mostly seafood processing, gained 300 jobs. Financial services and the information sector lost the largest numbers of jobs, at 400 and 300, respectively.
Alaska had 400 more federal jobs and 300 more state government jobs than in July of last year, with much of the growth coming from the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, the federal Bureau of Land Management and other agencies responding to a busy fire season. Local government employment was flat.
As Alaska emerges from our longest (but not deepest) recession, we can take a preliminary look at which sectors of the economy were hit hardest.
Alaska’s average monthly job count in 2018 was down 11,400 from 2015. (Job losses began in October 2015 and ended in October 2018, but for simplicity we’ll compare average monthly job counts by calendar year.) Oil and gas lost the largest number (-4,800) and biggest percentage of its overall employment (-34 percent).
Professional and business services, which includes geology and engineering firms and is a sector closely tied to oil and gas and construction, lost 2,800 jobs (-9 percent). Construction lost 1,800 jobs (-10 percent). Overall, the private sector lost 9,700 jobs (-4 percent).
State government’s job count fell by 2,200 (-9 percent). Federal employment, which was unaffected by the state’s recession, remained level. Local government added 600 jobs over the period, but its employment began to fall in late 2017 and remained slightly below its prior-year levels through most of 2018.
A few sectors grew despite the recession. Health care, fueled by increased health insurance coverage and an aging population, added 3,700 jobs over the three-year period, although growth slowed considerably in 2018. Leisure and hospitality benefitted from strong tourism growth in recent years and added 600 jobs from 2015 to 2018.