Alaska unemployment rate rises in February

Posted: Friday, March 21, 2003

JUNEAU (AP) Alaska's unemployment rate rose slightly in February, the state labor department said.

Unemployment rose one-tenth of a percentage point from January to 8.7 percent. The comparable national rate rose by the same percentage to 7 percent.

Labor Department officials say the rate is indicative of Alaska's traditional jobless peak in January and February before seasonal employment begins to pick up in March.

Things start to thaw out in the economy and the rate begins to fall again,'' said state labor economist Neal Fried.

During the same period last year, unemployment was 8.8 percent.

Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau all saw moderate increases in unemployment rates but still remain below the statewide level, the department said.

Yakutat had the highest unemployment rate in February at 23.9 percent. The Aleutians East Borough had the lowest rate at 3.4 percent.

Preliminary wage and salary estimates show Alaska has added abut 4,600 jobs over the last 12 months, the department said.

Those gains have come primarily from government jobs, leisure and hospitality industries and retail trade, the department said. The new government jobs are a combination of federal airport security positions and growth in both state university and local public school employment, the department said.

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