State unemployment rate lowest in 6 years
Alaska continues to add jobs to its seasonal economy.
The preliminary statewide unemployment rate for April is 6 percent, the lowest since mid-2007. It dropped a full percentage point from April 2012.
Nationally, unemployment last month was 7.5 percent.
Once again, Juneau and the North Slope Borough boast the lowest rate in Alaska, at 4-point-4 percent.
But it’s the actual numbers that tell the story, and in Southeast this time of year, jobs are being added in the seafood, construction, and tourism industries.
Caroline Schultz is an economist for the state labor department.
“Juneau added about 100 jobs in accommodation and food services and 400 in all of leisure and hospitality from March to April, so that’s pretty good growth over the month in leisure and hospitality, about 15 percent growth,” Schultz says. “And it will keep growing until it peaks in the mid-summer.”
She says 300 construction jobs were added between March and April, a 20 percent increase for that industry. And the Southeast seafood industry also grew by 300 jobs for the month.
The seasonal employment throughout the state may help lessen the blow of a statewide loss of federal jobs.
The federal jobs are tracked over the year rather than monthly. The loss in Southeast Alaska is slower than the rest of the state, according to Schultz.
She says Interior Alaska lost 500 federal jobs over the year.
“Fairbanks has the bases and there are also a lot of natural resource-oriented federal jobs up there too, like Park Service and Denali, those kinds of jobs,” she says. “But definitely the military bases are probably the biggest driver.”
Schultz says it’s still too early in the tourism season to know the extent of job loss of federal jobs in Alaska’s national parks and preserves.