Posted: Tuesday, January 23, 2001

Average gas price edges upward

JUNEAU - While the price of gasoline has been dropping slowly in Juneau, average gas prices in Alaska rose slightly in January, according to AAA MountainWest, an automobile club that serves Alaska, Montana and Wyoming. The club pegged Alaska's average price of a gallon of self-serve regular unleaded gasoline at $1.715 for January, up one cent from December. The price is up 36 cents from January 2000.

Nationwide, the average price of gasoline rose 2.7 cents this month to $1.488. A mixed bag of rising and falling prices were reported. The Great Lakes region was up more than 6 cents to $1.539, the Midwest prices rose an average of 1.3 cents to $1.467. The other regions saw prices drop anywhere from 9.2 cents a gallon in the West, which had the most expensive gasoline in the Lower 48 at $1.593, to 1.1 cents a gallon in the Southeast where gas averaged $1.41 per gallon, the lowest in the country.

Prices fell through the Christmas and New Year holidays, but started edging upward recently in anticipation of cuts from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, according to AAA. AAA's fuel gauge report is based on Oil Price Information Service data, the club said.

Comtech volunteer meeting set

JUNEAU - Comtech 2001 will hold a volunteer meeting at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 1 in the downtown library.

Volunteers are needed for Comtech (, sponsored by the Southeast Regional Resource Center. The technology trade show includes information for average computer users, Website designers and information technology professionals.

Each two hours of volunteer time receives a session pass. Comtech runs from Feb. 7 to 9 at Centennial Hall. Call 586-6806 or e-mail for information.

Unemployment up slightly in December

JUNEAU - The state Department of Labor reported that December's unemployment rate was 6.1 percent, up from 5.8 percent in November, and 0.2 percentage points higher than a year earlier. The national unemployment rate for December was 3.7 percent.

In Southeast, unemployment rose to 6.9 percent from 6.2 percent a month earlier. Juneau fared better at 4.6 unemployment, up a notch from 4.5 percent in November and 4.3 percent a year earlier. Juneau borough had 15,204 people employed out of a labor force of 15,940.

The state gained 4,000 jobs from December 1999. The only two sectors losing jobs were manufacturing, and finance, insurance and real estate. Prior to 1997, unemployment rates of 8 to 10 percent were more typical for December, said Neal Fried, state labor economist. The low numbers for 2000 are Alaska's reflection of a tighter labor market nationally, he said.

"It's become a national phenomena," Fried said.

Marketing seminar planned

JUNEAU - The Juneau Small Business Development Center is sponsoring "Marketing on a Shoestring" from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday in the third floor conference room of the Juneau Empire Building.

Jackie Stewart will provide tips and techniques for business owners to focus limited time and dollars effectively on their target audience.

Cost is $15 and pre-registration is required. Call Juneau SBDC at 463-3789 to register or for more information.

Workers may be eligible for state tax refund

JUNEAU - People who worked for more than one employer last year may be eligible for a refund if more than $133.92 taxes were deducted from all employers combined. Employees who had excess unemployment insurance taxes deducted in 2000 may can apply for a refund through the end of the year. The taxes are usually designated as ESC, ESD, UI or SUI on the employee's W-2 form, according to Ed Flanagan, Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

Alaska is one of three states where the employer and employees share the burden of building reserves from which unemployment benefits are paid. The employee's share for 2000 was 0.54 percent of wages up to $24,800. For refund forms, contact the Employment Security Tax Office in Juneau at 465-2757 or call toll free at (8880 448-3527. Employee refund forms are also available on line at

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