DATE: June 16, 2000         NO: 00-55

Contact: John Boucher        Phone:  907.465.6036

Department of Labor and Workforce Development

News Release

Alaska Unemployment Drops to 6.1% in May

Alaska's statewide unemployment rate moved down one-half of one percentage point in May, falling to 6.1%, the second lowest rate for the month of May in more than 20 years. The 6.1% rate meant that just over 19,000 Alaskans were unemployed in May, nearly 1,300 fewer than reported in April. John Boucher, a labor economist with the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, reported the declining rate. May’s unemployment statistics continued a recent trend of unemployment rates that are well below last year’s levels. Last May, Alaska’s unemployment rate was 6.7%, and more than 21,000 Alaskans were unemployed. This May, 5,000 more Alaskans were employed than a year ago. Alaska’s unemployment rate remains above the national unemployment rate. The U.S. civilian, not seasonally adjusted, unemployment rate in May was 3.9%.

May Unemployment for selected areasRegionally, unemployment was mixed. Four of the state’s six regions showed unemployment drops, while the Northern Region and Southwest Alaska posted higher unemployment rates. "The beginning of the peak visitor season and a vigorous construction industry brightened the state’s unemployment picture," Boucher commented. "Most of urban Alaska geared up for the tourism season and another solid construction season."

The Kodiak Island Borough, Southwestern Alaska and Northern Alaska were exceptions to the trend of dropping unemployment rates. A slowdown in employment related to the winter fisheries caused higher unemployment in Kodiak and Southwest Alaska. The end of the winter oil drilling and construction season was a major cause of increased unemployment in Northern Alaska. The highest unemployment rate in Alaska was in the Wade Hampton Census Area at 21.0%, while the lowest was in the Aleutians East Borough at 4.0%.

Wage and salary employment statistics helped explain the sharp drop in the unemployment rate. There were 11,000 more wage and salary jobs available in the state than in April. Retail trade, tourist-related services, construction and the transportation industry contributed most of the job growth. Manufacturing employment losses were restricted to Southwestern Alaska and Kodiak, where seafood processing plants geared down after the winter fisheries. Federal government employment gains related to temporary workers hired for the 2000 Census accounted for most of the government employment gains seen from April to May.

Labor Force By Region and Census Area

Labor Force

 

Unemployment

 

Rate

 

 

Employment

 

May-00

Apr-00

May-99

May-00

Apr-00

May-99

May-00

Apr-00

May-99

May-00

Apr-00

May-99

Alaska Statewide

320,776

314,797

314,244

19,604

20,883

21,166

6.1

6.6

6.7

301,172

293,914

293,078

Anchorage
/Mat-Su Region

173,715

172,407

168,498

8,484

9,129

9,107

4.9

5.3

5.4

165,231

163,278

159,391

Municipality of Anchorage

142,497

141,936

139,186

6,207

6,586

6,578

4.4

4.6

4.7

136,290

135,350

132,608

Mat-Su Borough

31,218

30,471

29,312

2,277

2,543

2,529

7.3

8.3

8.6

28,941

27,928

26,783

Gulf Coast Region

33,787

32,412

34,018

2,908

3,222

3,691

8.6

9.9

10.9

30,879

29,190

30,327

Kenai Peninsula Borough

21,460

20,836

21,466

1,873

2,321

2,229

8.7

11.1

10.4

19,587

18,515

19,237

Kodiak Island Borough

7,180

6,614

7,483

633

425

1,053

8.8

6.4

14.1

6,547

6,189

6,430

Valdez-Cordova

5,147

4,961

5,069

402

475

409

7.8

9.6

8.1

4,745

4,486

4,660

Interior Region

51,122

48,789

50,056

3,248

3,469

3,347

6.4

7.1

6.7

47,874

45,320

46,709

Denali Borough

1,215

1,206

1,196

71

123

80

5.8

10.2

6.7

1,144

1,083

1,116

Fairbanks North Star Borough

45,106

42,998

44,209

2,539

2,702

2,678

5.6

6.3

6.1

42,567

40,296

41,531

Southeast Fairbanks

2,607

2,509

2,516

257

285

223

9.9

11.4

8.9

2,350

2,224

2,293

Yukon-Koyukuk

2,194

2,075

2,134

381

359

365

17.4

17.3

17.1

1,813

1,716

1,769

Northern Region

8,527

8,657

8,234

1,026

934

998

12

10.8

12.1

7,501

7,723

7,236

Nome

3,264

3,300

3,146

444

396

426

13.6

12

13.5

2,820

2,904

2,720

North Slope Borough

3,190

3,242

3,055

293

259

260

9.2

8

8.5

2,897

2,983

2,795

Northwest Arctic
Borough

2,073

2,116

2,033

289

279

312

13.9

13.2

15.3

1,784

1,837

1,721

Southeast Region

39,677

37,867

39,530

2,313

2,678

2,548

5.8

7.1

6.4

37,364

35,189

36,982

Haines Borough

1,176

1,167

1,219

80

135

134

6.8

11.6

11

1,096

1,032

1,085

Juneau Borough

17,249

16,298

17,132

721

732

773

4.2

4.5

4.5

16,528

15,566

16,359

Ketchikan Gateway Borough

7,296

7,034

7,246

470

605

490

6.4

8.6

6.8

6,826

6,429

6,756

Pr. of Wales-Outer Ketchikan

3,380

3,250

3,408

412

455

470

12.2

14

13.8

2,968

2,795

2,938

Sitka Borough

4,430

4,188

4,423

201

205

237

4.5

4.9

5.4

4,229

3,983

4,186

Skagway
-Hoonah-Angoon

2,255

2,170

2,237

111

151

115

4.9

7

5.1

2,144

2,019

2,122

Wrangell-Petersburg

3,557

3,444

3,536

275

353

288

7.7

10.2

8.1

3,282

3,091

3,248

Yakutat Borough

335

315

328

44

41

40

13.1

13

12.2

291

274

288

Southwest Region

13,948

14,665

13,908

1,625

1,451

1,475

11.7

9.9

10.6

12,323

13,214

12,433

Aleutians East
Borough

1,448

1,532

1,482

58

41

79

4

2.7

5.3

1,390

1,491

1,403

Aleutians West

1,841

1,919

1,834

159

115

137

8.6

6

7.5

1,682

1,804

1,697

Bethel

5,786

6,067

5,764

683

596

616

11.8

9.8

10.7

5,103

5,471

5,148

Bristol Bay Borough

567

629

558

47

71

33

8.3

11.3

5.9

520

558

525

Dillingham

1,669

1,776

1,668

177

176

162

10.6

9.9

9.7

1,492

1,600

1,506

Lake & Peninsula
Borough

554

586

544

63

60

49

11.4

10.2

9

491

526

495

Wade Hampton

2,082

2,156

2,059

438

393

400

21

18.2

19.4

1,644

1,763

1,659

Alaska Nonagricultural Wage & Salary Employment

preliminary

revised

Changes from:

May-00

Apr-00

May-99

Apr-00

May-99

Total Nonagricultural Employment

286,600

275,600

281,600

11,000

5,000

Mining

9,800

9,700

9,700

100

100

Construction

14,300

12,500

13,800

1,800

500

Manufacturing

12,200

12,900

12,900

-700

-700

Transportation, Commun. & Utilities

27,800

25,700

26,600

2,100

1,200

Trade

58,300

55,600

57,800

2,700

500

Finance, Insurance & Real Estate

12,800

12,700

12,800

100

0

Services & Misc.

73,700

70,300

71,600

3,400

2,100

Government

77,700

76,200

76,400

1,500

1,300

Government includes employees of public schools and the University of Alaska.
Benchmark date: March 1998

Source: Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Research and Analysis Section.

 

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