Unemployment lowest in Juneau
The Capital City had the lowest unemployment rate in Alaska last month.
At 4.3 percent, Juneau’s October rate was unchanged from September and almost a full percentage point below October 2011.
The statewide jobless rate last month was 7.1 percent, well below the national rate of 7.9 percent.
Alaska’s employment picture is affected more by seasonal work than any other state. The numbers of those seeking unemployment benefits go up every fall and down in the spring.
But state labor economist Caroline Schultz says Juneau typically has a lower unemployment rate compared to the rest of the state.
“We have a less seasonal economy than Southeast Alaska, certainly because of the stability of government jobs and other private sector jobs,” Schultz says, “the perks of having a bigger economy in Juneau than we have in the rest of Southeast, where those communities are subject to much more seasonal changes.”
Skagway is the poster child for seasonal employment. In September, 2.4 percent of the workforce filed for unemployment benefits. It grew to more than 17 percent last month.
Sitka was another bright spot in the state’s economy last month, with unemployment slightly above Juneau’s, at 4-point-6 percent.
Over the year, the Southeast Alaska economy has grown by 2 percent, according to Schultz, with growth across all industries, and bigger gains in the private sector.