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Alaska widens lead on unemployment rate

Local, state unemployment declines while national rate goes up

Posted: May 21, 2011 - 10:37pm  |  Updated: May 23, 2011 - 12:49pm

Unemployent rate
             4/11    3/11    4/10
Alaska    7.3%    7.4%    8.1%
U.S.       9.0%    8.8%    9.8%

Note: Numbers are seasonally adjusted
Source: Alaska Department of Labor

Juneau and Alaska unemployment rates continued to fall in April, even as the national rate rose slightly.

According to April unemployment information from the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s Research and Analysis Section, Juneau’s unemployment rate in April was 5.3 percent. That number was the second lowest in the state and down from March’s 5.8 percent.

The state rate was 7.7 percent in April, down from 8.2 percent in March.

Both rates are also better than year-ago numbers, with Juneau at 5.8 percent in April of 2010 and Alaska at 8.3 percent then.

“Alaska’s picture is still considerably brighter than the nation’s,” said Neal Fried, state research economist.

The national rate, which unlike the state rate is seasonally adjusted, rose slightly as more people entered the workforce, Fried said.

The employment news was good, despite the nominal rate increase

“Despite the minor increase in the national rate between March and April, U.S. employment has been growing for eight months,” Fried said.

Over the last year, there have been more than 7,000 jobs added to the state’s economy, with health care jobs showing big gains, along with food services and drinking places. Smaller gains came in retail trade and oil and gas jobs. The most substantial job losses were in government, which saw an employment decline of 1,400 jobs over the year.

The lowest unemployment rate in the state was the North Slope Borough’s 4.1 percent, the only rate lower than Juneau’s. Those numbers are not seasonally adjusted.

The highest unemployment rate was the Wade Hampton Census Area in Western Alaska, at 20.6 percent.

Southeast Alaska’s regional unemployment rate declined from 8.6 percent in March to 7.4 percent in April.

Other rates were Sitka at 5.9 percent, Ketchikan at 7.6 percent, Wrangell at 8.2 percent, Haines at 9.6 percent, Petersburg at 10.5 percent, Yakutat at 12.4 percent, Prince of Wales Island at 14.7 percent, Skagway at 16.2 percent, and Hoonah-Angoon at 19.5 percent, highest in the region.

• Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or at patrick.forgey@juneuaempire.com.

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