Statewide jobless rate declines in April

JUNEAU -- Alaska’s unemployment rate dropped to 6.7 percent in April as seasonal industries started gearing up for the summer, the state Labor Department reported May 17.

While the jobless rate dipped from March’s 7.2 percent, it was still higher than April a year ago, when 6.4 percent of Alaska’s work force was looking for a job.

Southeast Alaska showed a significant reduction, with that region’s rate falling to 7.6 percent from 9.1 percent in March. The rate a year ago was 7.0 percent. Juneau’s jobless rate in April was 4.9 percent, while Ketchikan’s rate stood at 9.6 percent, well above the 7.8 percent figure in April 2001.

All regions but southwestern Alaska showed a decrease in the jobless rate for April compared with March. The April rate in Anchorage was 4.6 percent, while Fairbanks unemployment stood at 5.9 percent. The Gulf Coast region, which includes Kodiak and the Kenai Peninsula Borough, had a 9.9 percent jobless rate.

Southwestern Alaska’s rate was 11.6 percent, with the Wade-Hampton census area there showing a rate of 20.3 percent, highest in the state. Lowest unemployment was in the Aleutians East Borough, part of the same region. The rate there was 3.5 percent.

Statewide, the number of unemployed Alaskans dropped by 1,800 in April to 21,515.

That figure was nearly 1,400 higher than April 2001, when 20,129 Alaskans were out of work.

But the number of jobs has risen significantly over the last year, to 301,321 from 294,723 a year ago. That’s an increase of 2.2 percent.

05/26/2002 - 8:00pm