September Jobs Up 0.6 Percent From Last Year; Unemployment Rate at 6.2 Percent
JUNEAU—Alaska’s employment was up an estimated 0.6 percent in September, or 2,000 jobs, from September 2018. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained at 6.2 percent while the comparable national rate dipped to 3.5 percent.
Military projects in the Interior, increased oil and gas activity, and tourism continue to drive mild but widespread job growth. Construction gained the most jobs (800), followed by oil and gas (500), leisure and hospitality (400), and professional and business services (400).
Alaska had 400 fewer state government jobs in September than it had a year ago due to losses in the university system as it adapts to major cuts in state funding. Local government was down 100 jobs and federal employment was flat over the year despite the US Census Bureau hiring short-term workers in preparation for the 2020 Census.
The not-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate followed the expected fall pattern, with rates rising in nearly all boroughs and census areas. Fishing and tourism drove the lowest rates, with the Aleutians East Borough at 2.2 percent, the Aleutians West Census Area at 3.1 percent, and Skagway at 3.1 percent. Rural areas without fishing or tourism had the highest rates. Kusilvak Census Area was highest at 16.2 percent, and rates topped 10 percent in the Bethel Census Area, Northwest Arctic Borough, and Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area. Urban areas’ rates were below the statewide average, with Anchorage at 5.0 percent, Fairbanks at 4.9 percent, and Juneau at 4.0 percent.
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Spreading the Word
When Bristol Bay Native Corporation (BBNC) first aired TV commercials featuring the tagline, “A Place That’s Always Been,” the reaction was surprising. Not only because they received numerous accolades and marketing awards for the campaign but because, at the time, it was rare for Alaska Native corporations to market themselves through the media.