The Seward Phoenix Log - News of the Eastern Kenai Peninsula since 1966

Unemployment rate climbs to 6.8 percent in Aug.


September 22, 2016

Alaska’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 6.8 percent in August, up slightly from July’s 6.7 percent. The comparable national rate was 4.9 percent, unchanged from the previous month.

Although the one-tenth of a percentage point change is not large enough to be statistically significant, Alaska’s rate has been rising gradually since early 2015. August’s unadjusted rate was 5.9 percent, down from July’s 6.1 percent. August is typically the month with the lowest statewide unemployment rate as construction, fishing and tourism reach their seasonal peak.

Unadjusted rates fell or were flat in most areas around the state in August. The notable exception was the Bristol Bay Borough, where the unemployment rate rose 3 percentage points—from 2.2 percent to 5.2 percent—as the Bristol Bay sockeye harvest and processing wound down.

Most boroughs and census areas with dramatic seasonal patterns still had very low rates in August. The Aleutians East Borough and Aleutians West Census Area were at 1.9 and 2.2 percent, respectively. Sitka and Skagway were both at 3.0 percent, and the Denali Borough was at 3.1 percent. The highest rate was 22.1 percent in the Kusilvak Census Area.

Payroll employment was down 4,600 jobs from August 2015, a decline of 1.3 percent over the year. Employers in the oil and gas, construction, and professional and business services industries shed the majority of the private sector’s lost jobs. The public sector’s decline was entirely in state government. Health care was the only industry that grew substantially, up an estimated 900 jobs in August from the same month last year.

Federal government employment was also up from August 2015.


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