Unemployment Level Drops to Lowest Level in Over a Year

Casey Kelly, KTOO – Juneau

Alaska’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 7.7 percent in January, the lowest level in more than a year and a half.

January’s rate dropped 0.2 percent from December, according to the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development. December’s rate was revised down from the preliminary estimate of 8.1 percent to 7.9 percent.

It was also the 27th consecutive month Alaska’s unemployment rate has been below the national average, which was 9 percent in January. But state Economist Neal Fried says the difference between the two rates will narrow if the national economy continues its recovery.

The education and health care sectors continue to show strong growth in Alaska, up about 1,900 jobs since January 2010. Leisure and hospitality, including tourism, had the strongest growth from last year – gaining about 2,200 jobs. Oil and gas was relatively flat, with about 500 new jobs over the course of last year.

But Fried cautions the labor department’s new method of calculating employment could be skewing the numbers.

Juneau’s unemployment rate was among the lowest in the state in January at 6 percent. The lowest rate was in the North Slope Borough, which had 4.2 percent unemployment. Skagway had the highest rate at 29.9 percent. Anchorage’s unemployment rate was 6.5 percent.

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