News Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

DATE: October 15, 1999 CONTACT: Neal Fried
NO: 00-17 John Boucher

Statewide Jobless Rate 4.5% in September

Alaska's statewide unemployment rate moved slightly downward in September, falling one-tenth of a percentage point to 4.5%. This September's rate was the lowest rate ever recorded for the month of September and was the second-lowest rate recorded for any month since 1978. The all-time record low was posted in August 1998 when the unemployment rate was 4.3%. John Boucher, a labor economist with the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, reported the drop.

The 4.5% rate meant that more than 14,300 Alaskans were unemployed in September, nearly 80 fewer than in August. September's rate was the first time since January that the statewide unemployment rate was below the rate of a year ago. Last September the unemployment rate in Alaska was 4.6%. The comparable national unemployment rate (U.S. civilian not seasonally adjusted) in September was 4.1%.

The September drop in the unemployment rate was somewhat unexpected. "During the last twenty years, the unemployment rate has declined from August to September only four times, so this year's drop is unusual, but not unprecedented," Boucher said. The last time Alaska's unemployment rate dropped from August to September was in 1993.

One reason for the drop was the beginning of the new school year. "Unemployment can drop in September when unemployed young people drop out of the labor force to go back to school. In addition, a large contingent of school support staff returned to work in September," Boucher said. "Most often though, the school-related downward pressure on unemployment is offset by work ending in other seasonal industries like seafood processing and construction."

The highest unemployment rate in Alaska in September was posted in the Northwest Arctic Borough at 12.5%, while the lowest rate was the Aleutians East Borough rate of 1.5%.

Wage and salary employment statistics showed that state and local governments were the only sectors to post job gains in September, and all of those employment gains were education-related. Most other sectors of the economy experienced job losses in September. The manufacturing sector in Alaska's coastal regions experienced the greatest job losses as seafood processors let go of employees following the peak salmon processing season.

Labor Force by Region and Census Area

Labor Force

Unemployment

Rate

Employment

9/99

8/99

9/98

9/99

8/99

9/98

9/99

8/99

9/98

9/99

8/99

9/98

Alaska Statewide

318,389

325,795

318,723

14,348

15,126

14,550

4.5

4.6

4.6

304,041

310,669

304,173

Anchorage/Mat-Su Region

171,286

172,772

169,007

6,649

6,972

6,483

3.9

4.0

3.8

164,637

165,800

162,524

Municipality of Anchorage

140,228

141,553

139,847

4,927

5,095

4,958

3.5

3.6

3.5

135,301

136,458

134,889

Mat-Su Borough

31,058

31,219

29,160

1,722

1,877

1,525

5.5

6.0

5.2

29,336

29,342

27,635

Gulf Coast Region

34,982

38,002

35,541

2,287

2,233

2,191

6.5

5.9

6.2

32,695

35,769

33,350

Kenai Peninsula Borough

22,283

24,185

22,567

1,757

1,729

1,630

7.9

7.1

7.2

20,526

22,456

20,937

Kodiak Island Borough

7,352

8,025

7,516

261

267

283

3.6

3.3

3.8

7,091

7,758

7,233

Valdez-Cordova

5,347

5,791

5,457

269

236

277

5.0

4.1

5.1

5,078

5,555

5,180

Interior Region

49,107

50,010

49,722

2,132

2,283

2,356

4.3

4.6

4.7

46,975

47,727

47,366

Denali Borough

1,197

1,194

1,181

52

30

26

4.3

2.5

2.2

1,145

1,164

1,155

Fairbanks North Star Bor.

43,499

44,323

44,090

1,720

1,875

1,963

4.0

4.2

4.5

41,779

42,448

42,127

Southeast Fairbanks

2,404

2,439

2,437

160

159

174

6.7

6.5

7.1

2,244

2,280

2,263

Yukon-Koyukuk

2,007

2,055

2,015

200

219

193

10.0

10.7

9.6

1,807

1,836

1,822

Northern Region

8,041

8,149

8,880

727

797

696

9.0

9.8

7.8

7,314

7,352

8,184

Nome

2,974

3,055

3,331

240

307

272

8.1

10.0

8.2

2,734

2,748

3,059

North Slope Borough

3,101

3,112

3,403

240

236

201

7.7

7.6

5.9

2,861

2,876

3,202

Northwest Arctic Borough

1,965

1,982

2,147

246

254

224

12.5

12.8

10.4

1,719

1,728

1,923

Southeast Region

40,785

42,111

41,428

1,646

1,745

1,865

4.0

4.1

4.5

39,139

40,366

39,563

Haines Borough

1,153

1,204

1,194

35

51

64

3.0

4.2

5.4

1,118

1,153

1,130

Juneau Borough

17,785

18,348

18,049

689

716

768

3.9

3.9

4.3

17,096

17,632

17,281

Ketchikan Gateway Borough

7,637

7,842

7,716

340

316

340

4.5

4.0

4.4

7,297

7,526

7,376

Pr. of Wales-Outer Ketch.

3,335

3,486

3,406

193

246

230

5.8

7.1

6.8

3,142

3,240

3,176

Sitka Borough

4,626

4,788

4,709

151

172

185

3.3

3.6

3.9

4,475

4,616

4,524

Skagway-Hoonah-Angoon

2,267

2,363

2,317

60

87

86

2.6

3.7

3.7

2,207

2,276

2,231

Wrangell-Petersburg

3,645

3,737

3,696

157

140

170

4.3

3.7

4.6

3,488

3,597

3,526

Yakutat Borough

337

343

341

21

17

22

6.2

5.0

6.5

316

326

319

Southwest Region

14,189

14,753

14,146

908

1,097

960

6.4

7.4

6.8

13,281

13,656

13,186

Aleutians East Borough

1,527

1,566

1,518

23

20

25

1.5

1.3

1.6

1,504

1,546

1,493

Aleutians West

2,211

2,288

2,227

75

92

106

3.4

4.0

4.8

2,136

2,196

2,121

Bethel

5,762

5,977

5,724

458

523

458

7.9

8.8

8.0

5,304

5,454

5,266

Bristol Bay Borough

560

572

561

19

16

24

3.4

2.8

4.3

541

556

537

Dillingham

1,630

1,691

1,621

90

108

92

5.5

6.4

5.7

1,540

1,583

1,529

Lake & Peninsula Borough

555

594

552

17

40

17

3.1

6.7

3.1

538

554

535

Wade Hampton

1,944

2,064

1,944

226

298

238

11.6

14.4

12.2

1,718

1,766

1,706

Benchmark: March 1998

P/ denotes preliminary estimates

R/ denotes revised estimates

Comparisons between different time periods are not as meaningful as other time series produced by Research & Analysis.

The official definition of unemployment currently in place excludes anyone who has not made an active attempt to find work in the four-week period up to and including the week that includes the 12th of the reference month. Due to the scarcity of employment opportunities in rural Alaskan locations, many individuals do not meet the official definition of unemployed because they have not conducted an active job search. These individuals are considered not in the labor force.

Source: Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Research and Analysis Section.

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