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Alaska Employment: May Unemployment Drops Below National Rate

Jun 22, 2023 | Government, News

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Alaska’s unemployment rate dropped in May while the nationwide rate increased, putting the state slightly below the national average. The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development (DOLWD) puts the seasonally adjusted figure at 3.6 percent, down from 3.7 percent in April and March.

Trend Lines Cross

The comparable national rate increased to 3.7 percent in May. Alaska typically has higher unemployment than the rest of the country, with brief exceptions during the COVID-19 spike in early 2020 and for one month in early 2022. Since then, state and national figures have converged just below 4 percent.

The unadjusted unemployment rate in the Anchorage area dropped from 3.4 to 3.3 percent in May, with the municipality steady at 3.1 percent and the Matanuska-Susitna Borough down to 4.2 percent. The state’s lowest unemployment was in Juneau and Sitka, both at 2.6 percent. Skagway saw 2.7 percent unemployment in May, down from 4.9 percent the month before, as the cruise ship season got underway.

Total number of jobs in Alaska was up by 1.8 percent year over year, an increase of 5,800 since May 2022. DOLWD puts total nonfarm employment at 329,000, up by more than 10,000 from the April total.

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Alaska Business June 2024 Cover

June 2024

The sector with the largest growth was leisure and hospitality, up by 7.2 percent since 2022, adding 2,600 jobs, exceeding pre-pandemic levels. Professional services and healthcare also had strong year-to-year growth, up by 800 and 600 jobs, respectively. The oil and gas sector added 300 jobs, for 4.3 percent growth year over year.

Two industry sectors declined since May 2022: manufacturing lost 500 jobs, down 4.8 percent. DOWLD notes that manufacturing is driven by seafood processing, which can vary considerably from year to year. The information sector, which was flat from March to April, had 100 fewer jobs in May, down 2.1 percent from a year before. DOLWD says information jobs have been on a long, gradual decline as the industry adjusts to changing technology.

The public sector added jobs over the year, led by the federal government adding more than 400. Local government, which includes public schools, was up by 300 jobs and state government was up by 200 jobs.

Alaska Business June 2024 cover
In This Issue
Delivering Anchorage's Promise
June 2024
Welcome to the June 2024 issue, which features our annual Transportation Special Section. We've paired it this year with a focus on the Pacific Northwest and Hawai'i, as Alaska has close ties to both that reach far beyond lines of transportation. Even further out past our Pacific Ocean compatriots and our Canadian neighbors to the east, Alaska's reach extends to India and Singapore. Enjoy this issue that explores many of Alaska's far-flung business dealings.
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