February Unemployment Rate Continues Downward Trend
A downward trend in Alaska’s unemployment rate continued as 2022 began. The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development puts the seasonally adjusted figure for February at 5.4 percent, down from 5.7 in December.
Faster Improvement than Nationally
The rate in Alaska remains above the national rate of 3.8 percent, down from 3.9 percent in December.
The department spent the month of February compiling annual data, which is why the report skips over monthly figures for January.
The unadjusted rate in Anchorage and the Matanuska-Susitna Borough was a combined 5 percent, up slightly from December. Unemployment in the Interior also rose slightly to 5.4 percent, and Southeast Alaska was up to 5.6 percent. In each case, though, the February rates are lower than January’s, which saw a spike in unemployment claims with the new year.
Total number of jobs increased 2.4 percent since February 2021, with 7,100 more Alaskans employed. That figure is still 13,500 below February 2020, just before COVID-19 arrived in the state.
The leisure and hospitality sector had 2,600 more jobs than last February but 3,300 fewer than February 2020. The trade, transportation, and utilities sector was up by 1,800 jobs year over year. The 7,200 jobs in the oil and gas sector were 700 more than year-ago levels but 3,000 less than in 2020.
Local government was up by 900 jobs but down 1,400 from February 2020, mainly in public education. State government employment fell 500 below last year’s level and was 500 short of 2020. Total state government employment fell over the year with the phase-out of temporary pandemic-related positions. Federal employment was down 100 from February 2021 and 200 below 2020.
This year the Alaska Railroad is celebrating 100 years of transportation people and cargo around Alaska. While the railroad is one of the states oldest transporters, it certainly isn’t the only one, and in this issue of Alaska Business we also check in on the Marine Highway, Span Alaska, and the White Pass & Yukon Route. For those interested in Southeast, our focus on that region provides updates on Kensington Mine, Tongass FCU, the troll fishery, and Juneau’s growing landfill.