Alaska unemployment still lower than nation’s

Alaska’s unemployment rate has been lower than the nation’s for exactly three years.

For decades the state’s rate was at least one to two percentage points higher than the rest of the U.S. But that began to change in October of 2008. Now in the third year, Labor Economist Neal Fried said Alaska’s unemployment rate fell below the nation’s unemployment rate and it stayed there for three straight years.

“It’s not an Alaskan story,” said Fried. “It’s more of a national story about how tough that job market and how high that unemployment rate is and it stayed.”

In October of 2011, 7.4 percent of Alaskans were without jobs, compared to 9.0 percent nationwide. The state’s October 2010 rate was 7.9 percent, while the U.S. rate was 9.7 percent.

Unemployment in Juneau was 5 percent, up slightly from September and due to the loss of seasonal jobs.