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Juneau's jobless rates drop

Capital city's unemployment rate now nearly 1 % lower than this time last year

Posted: December 18, 2011 - 12:19am

While both Alaska and national seasonally adjusted unemployment rates fell in November, in Juneau even the non-seasonally adjusted rate fell.

New data released last week by the Alaska Department of Labor & Workforce Development show improvement across the board for this time of year.

Juneau’s unemployment rate of 4.9 percent was down a tenth of a percent from 5.0 in October, and was also significantly down from a year ago. In November of 2010, Juneau’s unemployment rate was 5.7 percent, and a year ago the city had more than 100 unemployed residents than it has today.

This time of year, non-adjusted unemployment rates usually rise, and in nearly every community in the state they did so.

In Juneau, and in northern Alaska, where winter oilfield hiring typically picks up this time of year, unemployment rates declined.

The state as a whole saw its non-adjusted rate raise from 6.8 percent in October to 7.2 percent in November as seasonal industries such as fishing and tourism finished wound down.

“The biggest increases in unemployment were in the most fishing-dependent regions — the Gulf Coast and Southwest rates increased by more than 1 percentage point and rated nearly doubled in Kodiak and the Aleutians,” said Neal Fried, economist with the department’s Research and Analysis Section.

Tourism-dependent communities saw typical seasonally high rages as well, with Skagway’s 27.4 percent the highest in the state, while the Denali Borough was next at 20.0 percent.

Other Southeast rates include Sitka at 6.2 percent, Ketchikan at 7.3 percent, Haines at 9.5 percent, Petersburg and Wrangell at 10.4 percent, Prince of Wales Island at 13.6 percent, and Hoonah-Angoon at 18 percent.

For more than three years Alaska has had a lower unemployment rate than the national average, but in November the gap began to close, Fried noted.

The national seasonally adjusted rate dropped four-tenths of a percentage point, to 8.6 percent, while the Alaska rate dropped only one-tenth of a percentage point.

That monthly decrease was only the second time in the last 10 years the national unemployment rate had fallen by that much, he said.

Over the last year, Alaska’s unemployment rate is down by six-tenths of a percentage point, while the national rate is down 1.2 percentage points.

The biggest sectors of growth over the year were health care with 1,000 more jobs, retail trade with 700 more jobs and the oil and gas industry with 600 more jobs.

Decreases were in manufacturing, down by 1,300 jobs and government, down by 500.

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

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