DATE: Oct 19, 2001     NO: 01-83

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Department of Labor and Workforce Development

News Release

Unemployment Rises to 5.2 Percent in September

With the summer visitor season winding down, Alaskaís unemployment rate rose two tenths of a percentage point in September to 5.2%. The unemployed numbered 17,147 in September, up about 500 from August. The comparable national unemployment rate for September was 4.7%, a drop from Augustís rate of 4.9%.

Initial claims for unemployment in September were up 25 percent from last month to 6,380. The increase was largely seasonal, however, and is below September 2000ís number of initial claims by almost 300 (a 4.3% decrease).

Because the most current employment data reflects the state of the labor market prior to the September 11 terrorist attacks, it is still unclear how Alaska will be affected in either the short or long term. Preliminary information suggests that the state has mostly recovered, at least economically, from the sudden interruption of routine business and the complete shutdown of some industries. It appears that the stateís economy is in tune with normal seasonal trends.

"Alaskaís unemployment rate is still near record lows, and current indicators suggest the stateís economy is continuing to grow at a modest rate," according to Dan Robinson, a labor economist with the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Septemberís unemployment rate is the same as in September 2000 and is the third lowest September rate in the last 20 years.

Regional unemployment in September reflected the statewide seasonal trend. The Anchorage/Mat-Su regionís rate increased from 4.1% to 4.2%; Fairbanks saw an increase of three tenths of a percentage point to 4.7%; and in Juneau the rate jumped from 3.8% in August to 4.4%. Most other areas also saw slight increases.

The Wade Hampton Census Area once again had the highest rate in the state at 16.4%, though down significantly from last monthís rate of 17.8%. The Sitka and Aleutians East boroughs tied for the stateís lowest rate at 3.2%.

Wage and salary employment contracted by about 5,200 jobs over the month, a typical seasonal decline. Employment is up two percent over the year. Nearly half of the stateís over-the-year job growth has come from the services sector, which has added 2,900 jobs since September 2000. Construction and government have also contributed significantly, adding 900 jobs each.


                                        Labor Force by Region and Census Area
  Labor Force Unemployment Rates Employment
  1-Sep 1-Aug Sep-00 1-Sep 1-Aug Sep-00 1-Sep 1-Aug Sep-00 1-Sep 1-Aug Sep-00
 
Alaska Statewide 328,715 336,017 324,207 17,147 16,643 17,013 5.2 5 5.2 311,568 319,374 307,194
             
Anchorage-Mat-Su Region 178,451 180,413 174,927 7,565 7,324 7,545 4.2 4.1 4.3 170,886 173,089 167,382
Municipality of Anchorage 144,523 145,677 142,902 5,605 5,352 5,640 3.9 3.7 3.9 138,918 140,325 137,262
MatSu Borough 33,928 34,736 32,025 1,960 1,972 1,905 5.8 5.7 5.9 31,968 32,764 30,120
             
Gulf Coast Region 34,406 36,824 34,406 2,524 2,366 2,879 7.3 6.4 8.4 31,882 34,458 31,527
Kenai Peninsula Borough 22,109 23,585 21,557 1,672 1,496 1,347 7.6 6.3 6.2 20,437 22,089 20,210
Kodiak Island Borough 7,155 7,776 7,831 539 626 1,289 7.5 8.1 16.5 6,616 7,150 6,542
Valdez-Cordova 5,142 5,463 5,018 313 244 243 6.1 4.5 4.8 4,829 5,219 4,775
             
Interior Region. 50,092 51,067 49,872 2,572 2,476 2,446 5.1 4.8 4.9 47,520 48,591 47,426
Denali Borough 1,159 1,154 1,137 78 48 58 6.7 4.2 5.1 1,081 1,106 1,079
Fairbanks North Star Borough 44,252 45,150 44,064 2,060 2,007 1,955 4.7 4.4 4.4 42,192 43,143 42,109
Southeast Fairbanks 2,598 2,648 2,611 216 212 234 8.3 8 9 2,382 2,436 2,377
Yukon-Koyukuk 2,081 2,115 2,060 217 209 199 10.4 9.9 9.7 1,864 1,906 1,861
             
Northern Region 9,008 8,974 8,935 957 984 958 10.6 11 10.7 8,051 7,990 7,977
Nome 3,368 3,376 3,331 349 380 340 10.4 11.3 10.2 3,019 2,996 2,991
North Slope Borough 3,422 3,365 3,458 312 278 376 9.1 8.3 10.9 3,110 3,087 3,082
Northwest Arctic Borough 2,218 2,234 2,146 296 326 241 13.3 14.6 11.2 1,922 1,908 1,905
             
Southeast Region 41,574 42,930 41,195 2,069 1,952 1,909 5 4.5 4.6 39,505 40,978 39,286
Haines Borough 1,258 1,299 1,226 65 61 39 5.2 4.7 3.2 1,193 1,238 1,187
Juneau Borough 18,312 18,876 18,135 804 715 724 4.4 3.8 4 17,508 18,161 17,411
Ketchikan Gateway Borough 8,029 8,316 7,930 447 452 390 5.6 5.4 4.9 7,582 7,864 7,540
Pr. of Wales-Outer Ketch 3,269 3,349 3,236 279 248 263 8.5 7.4 8.1 2,990 3,101 2,973
Sitka Borough 4,545 4,718 4,533 144 153 156 3.2 3.2 3.4 4,401 4,565 4,377
Skagway-Hoonah-Angoon 2,209 2,273 2,179 143 130 124 6.5 5.7 5.7 2,066 2,143 2,055
Wrangell-Petersburg 3,638 3,756 3,643 170 158 194 4.7 4.2 5.3 3,468 3,598 3,449
Yakutat Borough 314 343 314 17 35 19 5.4 10.2 6.1 297 308 295
             
Southwest Region 15,184 15,809 14,873 1,461 1,541 1,277 9.6 9.7 8.6 13,723 14,268 13,596
Aleutians East Borough 1,547 1,601 1,552 49 44 68 3.2 2.7 4.4 1,498 1,557 1,484
Aleutians West 2,000 2,084 1,979 109 118 106 5.5 5.7 5.4 1,891 1,966 1,873
Bethel 6,463 6,722 6,308 691 720 589 10.7 10.7 9.3 5,772 6,002 5,719
Bristol Bay Borough 495 508 479 41 36 29 8.3 7.1 6.1 454 472 450
Dillingham 1,826 1,887 1,756 153 148 99 8.4 7.8 5.6 1,673 1,739 1,657
Lake & Peninsula Borough 614 639 612 51 53 54 8.3 8.3 8.8 563 586 558
Wade Hampton 2,238 2,368 2,185 366 422 331 16.4 17.8 15.1 1,872 1,946 1,854

Alaska Nonagricultural Wage & Salary Employment
  preliminary revised Changes from:
1-Sep 1-Aug Sep-00 1-Aug Sep-00
         
Total Nonagricultural Employment 304,400 309,600 298,500 -5,200 5,900
Mining 11,900 12,000 11,600 -100 300
Construction 18,100 18,900 17,200 -800 900
Manufacturing 16,100 19,000 15,600 -2,900 500
Transportation, Commun. & Utilities 29,200 29,900 29,300 -700 -100
Trade 60,900 62,700 60,400 -1,800 500
Finance, Insurance & Real Estate 12,900 13,200 12,900 -300 0
Services & Misc. 79,700 82,200 76,800 -2,500 2,900
Government 75,600 71,700 74,700 3,900 900

Seasonally Adjusted Unemployment Rates
       
September 2001: Alaska 6.50% U.S.  4.90%
August 2001: Alaska  6.70% U.S. 4.90%
September 2000: Alaska  6.50% U.S. 3.90%

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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