Juneau's jobless rate sees small rise in December

City's unemployment rate remains below the state and nation

Posted: Monday, January 25, 2010

Juneau's unemployment rate climbed to 6.6 percent in December, with 100 more jobless people in town compared to last year at this time, according to Department of Labor and Workforce Development numbers released Friday.

In December, 1,187 members of Junuea's workforce of 18,077 were out of work. The unemployment rate last month was 6.2 percent; last year at the same time it was 6.0 percent.

For comparison, Alaska's non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate neared 9 percent for December, compared to 7.6 percent in December 2008.

The Juneau unemployment rate was well below the state as a whole, which in turn was below the national average.

State Economist Neil Fried said it was the 12th consecutive month the state's unemployment rate was below the nation's.

The poor national economy may be boosting Alaska's unemployment rate, Fried suggested.

"Because Alaska's relative employment picture remains better than most of the nation's, fewer Alaskans are leaving the state looking for employment prospects elsewhere in the country," Fried said.

At the same time, more job seekers are coming north.

Job losses recently have come in typical seasonal industries such as seafood processing and tourism. Government, education and health care all saw job increases.

Juneau's unemployment rate of 6.6 percent was second lowest in the state, bettered only by the North Slope Borough's 5 percent.

Juneau's chief employment sectors include the state capital, a regional university and hospital, all among the state's strongest job generators.

Other Southeast unemployment rates were Sitka at 7.9 percent, Ketchikan Gateway Borough at 9.9 percent, Yakatut at 12.6 percent, Haines at 13 percent, Wrangell-Petersburg at 14.5 percent, Prince of Wales/Outer Ketchikan at 16.8 percent and Skagway/Hoonah/Angoon at 24.6 percent. All but Juneau were one or two points higher than last year.

• Contact reporter Pat Forgey at patrick.forgey@juneauempire.com.

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