Unemployment rate in Alaska remains steady

Jobless rate of 8.7% remains significantly below national average

Posted: Monday, December 21, 2009

Alaska's unemployment rate remained steady in November at 8.7 percent, the same as the revised unemployment rate for October. The state's unemployment remains significantly below the national average of 10 percent, according to Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development preliminary figures released last week.

"The bottom line, in terms of what the unemployment rate is saying about the state's labor market, is that things don't appear to be getting significantly worse or better," Department of Labor economist Dan Robinson said in a report released Friday.

Robinson said job numbers reveal a clearer picture of Alaska's economy.

Alaska's total payroll jobs in November were down 3,300, or 1.1 percent, from November 2008.

Health care and government were the only job sectors that added jobs over the one-year period, with health care up by 1,700 jobs, and government up by 700. All other sectors were down.

Nationally, the percentage of payroll job losses is more significant, at 3.4 percent from November 2008 to November 2009.

In month-to-month changes in Alaska, jobs in construction and seafood processing declined from October to November. Jobs in accommodations, restaurants and bars also fell in November, as is typical.

Juneau's nonseasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 6.5 percent is above 5.4 percent from a year ago, and up very slightly from the revised figure of 6.4 percent in October.

The total size of Juneau's workforce was 17,911 in November, an increase of 180 from October. November's employment numbers are down by 253 people from November 2008. The number of unemployed in Juneau rose by 24 people from October to 1,160 in November.

Juneau's nonseasonally adjusted unemployment rate is the second lowest in the state, behind only the North Slope Borough, which had 5.4 percent. Alaska's nonseasonally adjusted rate is 8.5 percent for November.

The Southeast region as a whole is at 8.8 percent; other Southeast communities were higher, with Haines at 12 percent, Ketchikan at 8.6 percent, Prince of Wales at 16.1 percent, Sitka at 7.2 percent, the Skagway-Hoonah-Angoon census area at 23.2 percent, Wrangell-Petersburg at 11.6 percent, and Yakutat at 11.7 percent.

• Contact reporter Mary Catharine Martin at 523-2276 or maryc.martin@juneauempire.com.

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