DATE: June 15, 2001     NO: 01-66

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Department of Labor and Workforce Development

News Release

Unemployment Declines in May

May Unemployment for Selected Areas in Alaska (Graph)

Alaska’s statewide unemployment rate dropped one-half of one percentage point in May to 5.6%. The 5.6% rate meant that just over 18,400 Alaskans were unemployed in May, nearly 1,300 fewer than in April. Rachel Baker, a labor economist with the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, reported the declining rate. Last May, Alaska’s unemployment rate was 6.8%, and almost 21,800 Alaskans were unemployed. Alaska’s unemployment rate remains above the national rate, which was 4.1% in May.

Regionally, unemployment figures were mixed. Four of the state’s six regions showed unemployment declines in May. In these areas, the beginning of the visitor season and vigorous construction activity brightened the employment picture. Significant unemployment rate declines were recorded in areas affected by tourist activity such as the Denali and Haines boroughs and the Valdez-Cordova and Prince of Wales-Outer Ketchikan census areas.

The southwest and northern regions of the state were exceptions to the trend of lower unemployment rates. A slowdown in employment related to the winter fisheries caused higher unemployment in southwest Alaska. The end of the winter oil drilling and construction season was the primary cause of increased unemployment in northern Alaska. The regional range of unemployment rates in Alaska was great, from the highest in the Wade Hampton Census Area at 19.3%, to the lowest of 3.6% in the Sitka Borough.

Wage and salary employment statistics helped explain the drop in May’s unemployment rate. There were 11,300 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 was the only industry with employment declines in May, as seafood processing plants geared down in southwest Alaska and the Kodiak Island Borough after the winter fisheries. Continued suspension of logging activity in the Tongass National Forest also prevented the typical seasonal increase in timber employment.


Labor Force by Region and Census Area
  Labor Force Unemployment Rate Employment
  1-May 1-Apr May-00 1-May 1-Apr May-00 1-May 1-Apr May-00 1-May 1-Apr May-00
 
Alaska Statewide 327,725 321,427 320,525 18,426 19,685 21,753 5.6 6.1 6.8 309,299 301,742 298,772
 
Anchorage/Mat-Su Region 178,613 176,854 173,195 7,562 8,208 9,400 4.2 4.6 5.4 171,051 168,646 163,795
Municipality of Anchorage 146,014 145,185 142,055 5,491 5,921 6,878 3.8 4.1 4.8 140,523 139,264 135,177
Mat-Su Borough 32,599 31,669 31,140 2,071 2,287 2,522 6.4 7.2 8.1 30,528 29,382 28,618
 
Gulf Coast Region 34,310 32,653 34,043 2,949 3,134 3,233 8.6 9.6 9.5 31,361 29,519 30,810
Kenai Peninsula Borough 21,847 21,059 21,832 1,744 2,136 2,082 8 10.1 9.5 20,103 18,923 19,750
Kodiak Island Borough 7,283 6,545 7,097 775 420 704 10.6 6.4 9.9 6,508 6,125 6,393
Valdez-Cordova 5,181 5,049 5,115 431 578 448 8.3 11.4 8.8 4,750 4,471 4,667
 
Interior Region 50,763 49,050 50,041 2,938 3,186 3,605 5.8 6.5 7.2 47,825 45,864 46,436
Denali Borough 1,167 1,156 1,136 79 112 79 6.8 9.7 7 1,088 1,044 1,057
Fairbanks North Star Borough 44,761 43,205 44,049 2,298 2,483 2,819 5.1 5.7 6.4 42,463 40,722 41,230
Southeast Fairbanks 2,615 2,573 2,613 218 274 285 8.3 10.6 10.9 2,397 2,299 2,328
Yukon-Koyukuk 2,219 2,117 2,245 343 318 423 15.5 15 18.8 1,876 1,799 1,822
 
Northern Region 9,274 9,293 8,816 1,043 994 1,137 11.2 10.7 12.9 8,231 8,299 7,679
Nome 3,496 3,496 3,371 410 384 492 11.7 11 14.6 3,086 3,112 2,879
North Slope Borough 3,474 3,482 3,291 294 276 325 8.5 7.9 9.9 3,180 3,206 2,966
Northwest Arctic Borough 2,304 2,315 2,153 339 334 320 14.7 14.4 14.9 1,965 1,981 1,833
 
Southeast Region 40,157 38,650 39,927 2,280 2,566 2,575 5.7 6.6 6.4 37,877 36,084 37,352
Haines Borough 1,236 1,248 1,217 92 158 89 7.4 12.7 7.3 1,144 1,090 1,128
Juneau Borough 17,481 16,754 17,357 695 762 803 4 4.5 4.6 16,786 15,992 16,554
Ketchikan Gateway Borough 7,764 7,476 7,691 495 551 523 6.4 7.4 6.8 7,269 6,925 7,168
Pr. of Wales-Outer Ketchikan 3,193 3,153 3,284 327 422 457 10.2 13.4 13.9 2,866 2,731 2,827
Sitka Borough 4,377 4,178 4,385 157 158 224 3.6 3.8 5.1 4,220 4,020 4,161
Skagway-Hoonah-Angoon 2,146 2,091 2,078 165 204 124 7.7 9.8 6 1,981 1,887 1,954
Wrangell-Petersburg 3,622 3,441 3,585 297 273 306 8.2 7.9 8.5 3,325 3,168 3,279
Yakutat Borough 336 308 329 52 37 48 15.5 12 14.6 284 271 281
 
Southwest Region 14,607 14,928 14,502 1,653 1,597 1,803 11.3 10.7 12.4 12,954 13,331 12,699
Aleutians East Borough 1,475 1,527 1,450 61 72 64 4.1 4.7 4.4 1,414 1,455 1,386
Aleutians West 1,999 2,002 1,927 214 165 177 10.7 8.2 9.2 1,785 1,837 1,750
Bethel 6,154 6,272 6,100 705 664 758 11.5 10.6 12.4 5,449 5,608 5,342
Bristol Bay Borough 462 482 472 33 41 52 7.1 8.5 11 429 441 420
Dillingham 1,738 1,791 1,745 159 166 197 9.1 9.3 11.3 1,579 1,625 1,548
Lake & Peninsula Borough 592 618 591 60 71 70 10.1 11.5 11.8 532 547 521
Wade Hampton 2,189 2,236 2,217 422 418 485 19.3 18.7 21.9 1,767 1,818 1,732

Alaska Nonagricultural Wage & Salary Employment
  preliminary revised Changes from:
  1-May 1-Apr May-00 1-Apr May-00
 
Total Nonagricultural Employment 292,100 280,800 288,500 11,300 3,600
Mining 11,300 11,100 9,800 200 1,500
Construction 15,000 12,900 14,300 2,100 700
Manufacturing 12,100 12,400 13,200 -300 -1,100
Transportation, Commun. & Utilities 28,100 26,000 28,200 2,100 -100
Trade 58,900 56,100 58,500 2,800 400
Finance, Insurance & Real Estate 12,700 12,500 12,700 200 0
Services & Misc. 76,600 72,900 74,200 3,700 2,400
Government 77,400 76,900 77,600 500 -200

Seasonally Adjusted Unemployment Rates
 
May 2001: Alaska 5.6% U.S. 4.4%
April 2001: Alaska 5.8% U.S. 4.5%
May 2001: Alaska 6.8% U.S. 4.1%

Benchmark: March 2000 Source: Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Research and Analysis Section.

  • Comparisons between different time periods are not as meaningful as other time series produced by Research and 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 Alaska 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.

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