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Tourism, fishing hires drop jobless rate

Posted: Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Juneau's unemployment rate fell in May as tourism hiring picked up, but not as much as Skagway, which had the lowest unemployment rate in Southeast, as well as the state, for the month.

May's unemployment data, released by the Department of Labor and Workforce Development's Research and Analysis Section, shows Juneau with a non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 5.7 percent, down from 6.0 percent in April. In May of 2009, Juneau's rate was 5.6 percent.

The number of unemployed in Juneau was 1,055 in May, compared to 1,057 the previous year.

The biggest change in unemployment rates in the state was in Skagway, an area with a high concentration of tourism jobs. In May unemployment in Skagway fell to 2.5 percent, lowest in the state, from April's 18.5 percent, among the highest in the state.

Bristol Bay Borough had the next lowest unemployment rate at 4.1 percent, but there it was fishing that provided the new jobs.

"Alaska's fishing and visitor industries are mobilizing a workforce for three to four months of hyperactivity," said Neil Fried, state economist.

Unemployment rates elsewhere in Southeast generally improved as well, falling from 8.1 percent in April to 7.0 percent in May.

Sitka's rate in May was 6.1 percent, Ketchikan was 7.0 percent, Haines was 8.0 percent, Yakutat was 8.7 percent, Wrangell-Petersburg was 9.4 percent, Hoonah-Angoon was 12.5 percent, and Prince of Wales Island was 14.3 percent.

Statewide, the non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell during the month from 8.4 to 7.9 percent, but it still remains above the 7.6 percent from last year at this time.

Overall, Alaska has about 1,000 more unemployed workers in May than it did a year ago, but the vast majority of that is in the Municipality of Anchorage, where the unemployment rate of 7.0 percent is well above last year's 6.5 percent.

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



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