COVID-19 Disruptions Cause 13.1 Percent Job Loss in April
JUNEAU—Alaska’s job count was down 13.1 percent in April from the same month last year, a loss of 42,200 jobs. The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate jumped to 12.9 percent, up from 5.2 percent in March. The comparable US rate rose from 4.4 percent to 14.7 percent.
COVID-19 caused disruptions across the state, especially to public-facing businesses such as stores, bars, restaurants, and other gathering places. April is when visitor-related industries, construction, and other industries normally start adding jobs to prepare for the state’s busy summer season.
Some of these jobs will return as restrictions ease, but many seasonal jobs won’t materialize this year—such as those serving cruise ship tourists. Others will return only slowly as employers assess uncertain demand and changing operating procedures as a result of the pandemic.
Disruptions touched every major industry in Alaska, although by varying degrees. Leisure and hospitality were down the most, numerically and in percent terms, dropping 48.1 percent from last April (-15,600). Retail lost 5,000 jobs, or 14.3 percent. Local government lost 4,000 jobs in both public education and government. State government employment fell by 1,500, with the majority of losses in the University of Alaska. Census hiring made federal government the only sector to have more jobs this April than last (about 700).
Across the state, not-seasonally adjusted unemployment rates rose dramatically in nearly all areas. Rates were highest in rural areas that normally would have been preparing for tourists, such as Denali, Haines, and Skagway. Anchorage’s rate rose to 13.9 percent, Fairbanks’ to 11.2 percent, and Juneau’s to 10.8 percent.
For more detail on recent employment trends, see the May issue of Alaska Economic Trends.