Alaska Employment: Unemployment Rate Down Slightly in March to 3.7 Percent
Alaska’s unemployment rate fell slightly to round out the first quarter of 2023. The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development (DOLWD) puts the seasonally adjusted figure for March at 3.7 percent, down from 3.8 in February and January.
More Openings Than Workers
DOLWD notes that job openings are high, with more available jobs than workers seeking to fill them. In February, the most recent month with complete data, for each unemployed worker there were two job openings.
The statewide rate is converging on the national average of 3.5 percent in March.
The unadjusted unemployment rate in the Anchorage area beats the national rate at 3 percent even, the same as the March rate in the Kodiak Island Borough. Juneau and Sitka were lower, at 3.2 and 2.9 percent, respectively, and the state’s lowest unemployment was in the fishing provinces of the Aleutians East Borough and Aleutians West Census Area, at 1.3 and 1.9 percent, respectively.
Every area had lower unadjusted rates from February to March except for the Northwest Arctic Borough and Chugach Census Area, which encompasses Prince William Sound and Cordova.
Total number of jobs in Alaska was up by 2.3 percent year over year, an increase of 7,000 since March 2023. The jump from 312,200 jobs in February to 315,100 in March was driven by private sector employers; the 500 new federal, state, and local government jobs amounted to an increase of 0.6 percent.
As in February, the strongest job gains in March were in the transportation, warehousing, and utilities sector, up by 1,400 since March 2022, for a 6.9 percent increase. The leisure and hospitality sector added 2,000 jobs, year over year, for a 6.7 percent increase. DOLWD points out that those sectors sustained some of the biggest losses during the COVID-19 pandemic, but both are now above or approaching pre-pandemic job levels.
All industries added jobs except for the information sector, which was flat, with the same 4,700 jobs as in March 2022.