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Alaska, Juneau employment rates slightly higher

Posted: Sunday, October 24, 2010

Juneau's unemployment rate inched up in September, but remains significantly below the national rate and Juneau's rate from a year ago.

September's 5.4 percent was up a tenth of a percent from August's 5.3 percent, and down from 5.9 percent in September of 2009.

The Southeast Alaska area's unemployment rate of 6.2 percent in September, which rose slightly, remained below the statewide unemployment rate of 7.3 percent, also up slightly.

"The unemployment rate in Alaska has recovered a bit faster than it has nationwide," said Neal Fried, state labor economist.

The national unemployment rate remains stubbornly high, at a seasonally adjusted 9.6 percent in September, down from 9.8 percent a year ago. The comparable September seasonally adjusted rate for Alaska is 7.8 percent.

Alaska's unemployment is dropping, and state Department of Labor and Workforce Development statistics show about 700 more jobs in the state than a year ago.

However, the civilian labor force has more people in it as well, something economists say is likely due to Alaskans who have lost jobs not leaving the state because the tougher recession elsewhere has limited job availability there as well.

Juneau typically has one of the lowest unemployment rates in Southeast, but during the summer several tourism and fishing communities were as low or lower.

The lowest unemployment rates in Southeast were Skagway at 3.8 percent and Haines at 4.9 percent. Sitka and Ketchikan both jumped higher than Juneau in September, with Sitka at 5.5 percent and Ketchikan at 6 percent.

Yakutat was at 6.7 percent, the Wrangell-Petersburg Census Area was 7.8 percent, and the Hoonah-Angoon Census Area was at 9.7 percent. As is often the case the Prince of Whales-Outer Ketchikan Census Area had the highest unemployment rate in Southeast at 12.9 percent.

The lowest unemployment rate in the state was in the Bristol Bay Borough, were fishing was in full swing, dropping unemployment rates below even the state's top tourist areas, including Skagway and Denali.

"These unemployment numbers will continue to rise for the next five to six months as winter sets it," Fried said.

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



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