Alaska's unemployment rate declines in December

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - Alaska's unemployment rate in December dropped to 7.7 percent.

    The pandemic still continues to keep job counts well below year-ago levels, according to the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development.  The loss from December 2019 to December 2020 is pegged at 24,100.

    Leisure and hospitality continued to record the largest losses, with 8,600 fewer jobs than a year ago, or  27.3 percent.  The transportation, warehousing, and utilities sector had 2,600 fewer jobs or 12.6 percent.  Oil and gas employment was down 3,200 or 32 percent and professional and business services lost 2,000 jobs or 7.4 percent.

    Anchorage shut down bars and restaurants during December to slow the spread of COVID-19, which represented much of the drop in leisure and hospitality. Oil and gas employment appeared to hit a floor of around 6,800 jobs in November, where it stayed in December, but there’s no sign yet of a bounce. Oil jobs hovered around 10,000 in early 2020 before the pandemic drove them down to current levels.

    The state government’s job count was up 500 from December 2019, primarily from COVID-related hires such as contract tracers and additional staff to process unemployment insurance claims.

    The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 5.8 percent in December from a revised November rate of 6.3 percent.  The preliminary November rate was 8.1 percent). The comparable U.S. rate remained at 6.7 percent.

    Job losses remain historically large, and unemployment claims during the second week of December were still nearly five times higher than the same week in 2019.

    The unemployment rate in Southeast Alaska stood at 5.8 percent in December down from 6.4 in November and 6.3 percent in December of 2019.

    In Juneau, the unemployment rate last month was 4.4 percent the same level as last year, but down from November's rate of 5.1 percent. Juneau held the lowest unemployment rate in the state.

    Ketchikan's rate was at 6.7 percent in December down from 7.7 in November and up slightly from the 6.6 percent rate last year.

    In Sitka, last month's rate was 5.5 percent, up from November's 5.2 percent and the 4.6 percent in December of 2019.

    Haines recorded a rate of 10.5 percent in December, down from November's 11.1 and last year's 124.2 percent.

    Skagway stood at 14.4 percent in December down from 16.6 in November and 19.6 last year. Skagway held the state's highest unemployment rate.

    In the Angoon-Hoonah Census Area unemployment in December was pegged at 9.9 percent which was down from 10.5 in November and 14.6 last year.


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