Juneau partially buffered from US job crisis

Local unemployment rate decreases during summer hiring season

Posted: Monday, August 24, 2009

The unemployment rate in Juneau fell from 6.2 percent in June to 5.5 percent in July as seasonal summer hiring ramped up, state economists announced Friday.

The Juneau rate was still far lower than the state as a whole, which also saw a monthly improvement, with unemployment falling from 8.3 percent in June to 7.5 percent in July. Those numbers are not seasonally adjusted.

The number of unemployed in Juneau fell by more than 100 as the size of the labor force expanded.

Statewide, Alaska maintained an unemployment rate below the national rate and well below other Pacific Coast states.

Alaska's seasonally adjusted rate was 8.3 percent in July, same as in June, while the national rate was 9.4 percent, down from 9.5 percent in June.

"Before this year, the last time Alaska's unemployment rate was lower than the nation's was in 1983," said Dan Robinson, economist for the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

Both Alaska and national unemployment rates were substantially higher than they were one year ago. In July 2008, Alaska's rate was 6.7 percent, while the national rate was 5.8 percent in July 2008.

While the national recession has been hit hardest in manufacturing jobs, Alaska in the past month has added 6,400 manufacturing jobs, 6,300 of them in seafood processing.

"Alaska has few of the types of manufacturing jobs that have been disappearing in other parts of the country," Robinson said.

The effects of the recession showed in other areas that lost jobs during the past year, including a loss of 1,300 construction jobs, 900 jobs in retail and 500 jobs in accommodations.

"Taken together, the unemployment rate and job numbers continue to show that the national recession is hurting Alaska's economy, but to a lesser degree than in most states," Robinson said.

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

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