DATE: Nov 16, 2001     NO: 01-88

CONTACTS: 

PHONE:

(907) 465-6036

Department of Labor and Workforce Development

News Release

Unemployment Rises to 5.6 Percent in October

Alaska’s October unemployment rate rose to 5.6% as many seasonal jobs ended, the smallest October increase in more than twenty years. The four tenths of a percentage point rise from September’s rate of 5.2% is well below the average September to October increase over the last 20 years. Only once during that period has the state seen a lower rate in October.

Alaska’s continued low unemployment rate is especially significant in light of the rising national rate. The comparable national unemployment rate for October was 5.0%, a three tenths of a percent increase in a month when the national rate historically decreased.

Both the national and state numbers have attracted special attention because October is the first month for which labor market data are available since the September 11 terrorist attacks. "So far, Alaska’s labor market is holding steady," according to Dan Robinson, a labor economist with the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

A larger than normal increase in initial claims for unemployment benefits may portend higher rates in coming months. Initial claims rose more than 50 percent in October to 9,619, compared to a 30 percent increase over the same period last year. A rise in initial claims may not cause an immediate jump in the unemployment rate, but is often a signal of a weakening labor market.

Regional unemployment rates highlighted the different levels of dependence on seasonal employment. The Denali Borough, largely dependent on the visitor season that slows to a trickle in October, saw its unemployment rate jump from 6.7% in September to 11.6% in October. Skagway, Haines, Juneau and Yakutat also saw noticeably higher rates in October as a result of dramatically fewer tourism and fishing-related jobs.

By contrast, Anchorage’s unemployment rate remained at 3.9%, reflecting both less dependence on seasonal employment and a larger supply of alternative jobs for the winter months. Fairbanks’ unemployment rate increased slightly to reach 5.0%, three tenths of a percent lower than in October 2000.

For the eighth month in a row, the Wade Hampton Census area had the state’s highest unemployment rate at 16.1%, down slightly from last month’s rate of 16.4%. The lowest rate in the state was in the Aleutians East Borough at 3.0%.

Wage and salary employment declined by about 13,000 jobs, or 4.3%. For the year, employment is up more than 5,000, a two percent increase.

 

                                        Labor Force by Region and Census Area
  Labor Force Unemployment Rates Employment
1-Oct 1-Sep Oct-00 1-Oct 1-Sep Oct-00 1-Oct 1-Sep Oct-00 1-Oct 1-Sep Oct-00
                       
Alaska Statewide  328,421 328,718 323,427 18,383 17,150 18,967 5.6 5.2 5.9 310,038 311,568 304,460
                       
Anchorage-MatSu Region  182,249 178,344 178,369 7,882 7,564 8,345 4.3 4.2 4.7 174,367 170,780 170,024
Municipality of Anchorage 148,668 144,878 146,106 5,850 5,608 6,161 3.9 3.9 4.2 142,818 139,270 139,945
MatSu Borough 33,581 33,466 32,263 2,032 1,956 2,184 6.1 5.8 6.8 31,549 31,510 30,079
                       
Gulf Coast Region  33,279 34,518 32,925 2,886 2,525 3,068 8.7 7.3 9.3 30,393 31,993 29,857
Kenai Peninsula Borough 21,391 22,180 21,004 1,908 1,672 1,865 8.9 7.5 8.9 19,483 20,508 19,139
Kodiak Island Borough 6,795 7,178 6,923 488 539 727 7.2 7.5 10.5 6,307 6,639 6,196
Valdez-Cordova Census Area 5,093 5,159 4,998 490 313 476 9.6 6.1 9.5 4,603 4,846 4,522
                       
Interior Region  49,566 50,054 49,370 2,844 2,571 3,002 5.7 5.1 6.1 46,722 47,483 46,368
Denali Borough 1,203 1,159 1,187 140 78 132 11.6 6.7 11.1 1,063 1,081 1,055
Fairbanks North Star Borough 43,661 44,219 43,493 2,177 2,059 2,323 5 4.7 5.3 41,484 42,160 41,170
Southeast Fairbanks CA 2,633 2,596 2,626 291 216 302 11.1 8.3 11.5 2,342 2,380 2,324
Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area 2,069 2,080 2,064 236 217 245 11.4 10.4 11.9 1,833 1,863 1,819
                       
Northern Region  9,239 9,003 9,228 893 957 919 9.7 10.6 10 8,346 8,046 8,309
Nome Census Area 3,458 3,366 3,438 329 349 323 9.5 10.4 9.4 3,129 3,017 3,115
North Slope Borough 3,504 3,420 3,543 280 312 333 8 9.1 9.4 3,224 3,108 3,210
Northwest Arctic Borough 2,277 2,217 2,246 284 296 262 12.5 13.4 11.7 1,993 1,921 1,984
                       
Southeast Region  39,759 41,655 38,994 2,509 2,071 2,352 6.3 5 6 37,250 39,584 36,642
Haines Borough 1,251 1,261 1,198 126 65 91 10.1 5.2 7.6 1,125 1,196 1,107
Juneau Borough 17,356 18,348 17,061 847 805 822 4.9 4.4 4.8 16,509 17,543 16,239
Ketchikan Gateway Borough 7,720 8,045 7,529 571 448 497 7.4 5.6 6.6 7,149 7,597 7,032
Pr. of Wales-Outer Ketch CA  3,065 3,276 3,075 246 280 302 8 8.5 9.8 2,819 2,996 2,773
Sitka Borough 4,336 4,554 4,260 186 144 178 4.3 3.2 4.2 4,150 4,410 4,082
Skagway-Hoonah-Angoon  CA 2,196 2,214 2,125 248 144 209 11.3 6.5 9.8 1,948 2,070 1,916
Wrangell-Petersburg CA 3,523 3,645 3,446 253 170 229 7.2 4.7 6.6 3,270 3,475 3,217
Yakutat Borough 312 314 298 32 17 23 10.3 5.4 7.7 280 297 275
                       
Southwest Region  14,328 15,144 14,542 1,368 1,462 1,281 9.5 9.7 8.8 12,960 13,682 13,261
Aleutians East Borough 1,459 1,542 1,507 44 49 60 3 3.2 4 1,415 1,493 1,447
Aleutians West Census Area 1,916 1,994 1,979 131 109 152 6.8 5.5 7.7 1,785 1,885 1,827
Bethel Census Area 6,051 6,446 6,128 599 691 550 9.9 10.7 9 5,452 5,755 5,578
Bristol Bay Borough 465 494 478 36 41 39 7.7 8.3 8.2 429 453 439
Dillingham Census Area 1,746 1,821 1,713 166 153 96 9.5 8.4 5.6 1,580 1,668 1,617
Lake & Peninsula Borough 586 612 605 54 51 61 9.2 8.3 10.1 532 561 544
Wade Hampton Census Area 2,107 2,233 2,132 339 367 323 16.1 16.4 15.2 1,768 1,866 1,809

Alaska Nonagricultural Wage & Salary Employment
  preliminary revised    Changes from
  10/01 09/01 10/00 09/00 10/00
 
Total Nonagricultural Employment 291,100 304,300 285,400 -13,200 5,700
Mining 11,700 11,900 11,500 -200 200
Construction 16,900 18,100 16,100 -1,200 800
Manufacturing 12,000 16,100 12,200 -4,100 -200
Transportation, Commun. & Utilities 27,000 29,100 26,700 -2,100 300
Trade 58,300 61,000 57,800 -2,700 500
Finance, Insurance & Real Estate 12,800 13,000 12,800 -200 0
Services & Misc. 75,700 79,800 72,600 -4,100 3,100
Government 76,700 75,300 75,700 1,400 1,000

Seasonally Adjusted Unemployment Rates
       
October 2001: Alaska 6.00% U.S.  5.40%
September 2001: Alaska  6.50% U.S. 4.90%
October 2000: Alaska  6.30% 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.

    Return to Index