DATE: July 20, 2001     NO: 01-70

CONTACT: 

Neal Fried 

PHONE:

(907) 269-4861

Department of Labor and Workforce Development

News Release

June Unemployment Inches Downward

June Unemployment for selected Areas (graph)Alaska’s statewide unemployment rate dropped just a tenth of a percentage point in June to 5.5%. This is nearly a full percentage point below the year-ago level, and the number of unemployed Alaskans was 2,600 lower than last June. The comparable national unemployment rate in June was 4.7%.

June’s unemployment rate, like the rates of the past three years, remains near record lows. Some of the explanation for Alaska’s tight labor market has been the booming national economy that has created some of the lowest unemployment rates in three decades. But this could change, according to Neal Fried, a labor economist with the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development. “The nation’s unemployment is beginning to rise, and recent large layoffs around the nation could eventually spell higher rates of unemployment in Alaska if more residents in the lower 48 states look north.”

Most of the areas in the state experienced relatively small changes in unemployment in June. In many cases unemployment fell as the construction, fishing and visitor industries began to move into their busiest season. The Denali Borough’s unemployment fell the most dramatically—from 6.7% in May to 3.5% in June. The area’s large, highly seasonal visitor industry, anchored by Denali National Park, accounts for most of this change. Denali Borough also had the state’s lowest jobless rate in June.

Nearly all the regions in the state also experienced lower rates this year than in June of 2000. One exception was the Southwest region, where the unemployment rate actually increased by 1.1 percentage points in June and was slightly higher than year-ago levels. The main reason for the region’s lackluster performance was weaker fisheries. The highest unemployment rate was in the Wade Hampton Census area at 21.2%. Wade Hampton is an area of 13 small communities, most of them on the Yukon Delta, where employment opportunities are scarce year-round.

Accompanying the slight drop in June’s jobless rate was the addition of 9,400 wage and salary jobs to the state’s economy. The number of jobs is running 2,600 ahead of year-ago levels, or less than one percent. Most of the explanation for this weaker over-the-year growth is the very soft manufacturing sector. Timber’s employment is down nearly 31 percent compared to year-ago levels. With the salmon season off to a slow start, seafood processing is down 14 percent or 1,400 jobs. Employment gains in the oil and construction industries are helping to lighten these losses. Since both oil and construction are high-wage industries, they are giving the economy some quality punch. Strong growth in the service industry is also providing a big boost to the labor market.


Labor Force by Region and Census Area
  Labor Force Unemployment Rate Employment
  1-Jun 1-May Jun-00 1-Jun 1-May Jun-00 1-Jun 1-May Jun-00 1-Jun 1-May Jun-00
 
Alaska Statewide 336,521 327,738 329,610 18,619 18,439 21,256 5.5 5.6 6.4 317,902 309,299 308,354
 
Anchorage/Mat-Su Region 182,273 178,853 176,508 7,702 7,568 9,212 4.2 4.2 5.2 174,571 171,285 167,296
Municipality of Anchorage 147,775 146,325 144,014 5,494 5,496 6,748 3.7 3.8 4.7 142,281 140,829 137,266
Mat-Su Borough 34,498 32,528 32,494 2,208 2,072 2,464 6.4 6.4 7.6 32,290 30,456 30,030
 
Gulf Coast Region 36,417 33,915 36,581 2,723 2,949 3,082 7.5 8.7 8.4 33,694 30,966 33,499
Kenai Peninsula Borough 23,250 21,593 23,175 1,651 1,743 1,701 7.1 8.1 7.3 21,599 19,850 21,474
Kodiak Island Borough 7,737 7,201 8,006 745 775 1,055 9.6 10.8 13.2 6,992 6,426 6,951
Valdez-Cordova 5,429 5,121 5,400 326 431 326 6 8.4 6 5,103 4,690 5,074
 
Interior Region 51,928 50,924 51,242 2,886 2,942 3,413 5.6 5.8 6.7 49,042 47,982 47,829
Denali Borough 1,157 1,171 1,131 41 79 43 3.5 6.7 3.8 1,116 1,092 1,088
Fairbanks North Star Borough 45,847 44,904 45,235 2,303 2,301 2,768 5 5.1 6.1 43,544 42,603 42,467
Southeast Fairbanks 2,679 2,623 2,647 221 218 250 8.2 8.3 9.4 2,458 2,405 2,397
Yukon-Koyukuk 2,246 2,226 2,228 322 344 352 14.3 15.5 15.8 1,924 1,882 1,876
 
Northern Region 9,258 9,243 8,701 1,150 1,044 1,200 12.4 11.3 13.8 8,108 8,199 7,501
Nome 3,501 3,484 3,296 461 410 484 13.2 11.8 14.7 3,040 3,074 2,812
North Slope Borough 3,452 3,462 3,283 320 295 385 9.3 8.5 11.7 3,132 3,167 2,898
Northwest Arctic Borough 2,305 2,297 2,122 369 339 331 16 14.8 15.6 1,936 1,958 1,791
 
Southeast Region 41,435 40,267 41,197 2,250 2,282 2,486 5.4 5.7 6 39,185 37,985 38,711
Haines Borough 1,262 1,239 1,234 78 92 65 6.2 7.4 5.3 1,184 1,147 1,169
Juneau Borough 18,091 17,530 17,959 725 696 803 4 4 4.5 17,366 16,834 17,156
Ketchikan Gateway Borough 8,002 7,785 7,936 482 495 507 6 6.4 6.4 7,520 7,290 7,429
Pr. of Wales-Outer Ketchikan 3,303 3,203 3,364 338 328 435 10.2 10.2 12.9 2,965 2,875 2,929
Sitka Borough 4,538 4,389 4,567 172 157 254 3.8 3.6 5.6 4,366 4,232 4,313
Skagway-Hoonah-Angoon 2,211 2,152 2,153 162 165 128 7.3 7.7 5.9 2,049 1,987 2,025
Wrangell-Petersburg 3,689 3,632 3,645 249 297 246 6.7 8.2 6.7 3,440 3,335 3,399
Yakutat Borough 339 337 338 45 52 47 13.3 15.4 13.9 294 285 291
 
Southwest Region 15,208 14,536 15,380 1,907 1,655 1,863 12.5 11.4 12.1 13,301 12,881 13,517
Aleutians East Borough 1,522 1,467 1,547 70 61 72 4.6 4.2 4.7 1,452 1,406 1,475
Aleutians West 2,121 1,989 2,043 289 214 181 13.6 10.8 8.9 1,832 1,775 1,862
Bethel 6,388 6,124 6,497 793 706 811 12.4 11.5 12.5 5,595 5,418 5,686
Bristol Bay Borough 478 459 513 38 33 66 7.9 7.2 12.9 440 426 447
Dillingham 1,784 1,729 1,818 163 159 170 9.1 9.2 9.4 1,621 1,570 1,648
Lake & Peninsula Borough 612 589 624 66 60 69 10.8 10.2 11.1 546 529 555
Wade Hampton 2,302 2,179 2,338 488 422 494 21.2 19.4 21.1 1,814 1,757 1,844

Alaska Nonagricultural Wage & Salary Employment
  preliminary revised   Changes from:  
  1-Jun 1-May Jun-00 1-May Jun-00
 
Total Nonagricultural Employment 301,000 291,600 298,400 9,400 2,600
Mining 11,600 11,300 10,000 300 1,600
Construction 17,100 14,900 16,600 2,200 500
Manufacturing 13,500 11,800 15,400 1,700 -1,900
Transportation, Commun. & Utilities 29,300 28,200 29,500 1,100 -200
Trade 61,700 58,800 61,200 2,900 500
Finance, Insurance & Real Estate 13,100 12,700 13,200 400 -100
Services & Misc. 81,100 76,500 79,000 4,600 2,100
Government 73,600 77,400 73,500 -3,800 100

Seasonally Adjusted Unemployment Rates
 
June 2001: Alaska 5.8% U.S. 4.5%
May 2001: Alaska 5.6% U.S. 4.4%
June 2000: Alaska 6.8% U.S. 4.0%

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.

    Return to Index