Modest bump in state unemployment rate

Posted: Sunday, April 21, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Unemployment in Alaska rose to 7.4 percent in March, state labor officials said Friday, up from 7.2 percent in March of last year.

The March rate is less than a percentage point above the February jobless rate. Alaska's unemployment remains above the national average of 6.1 percent.

The number of unemployed Alaskans grew by 325 in March to 24,012 people. That's an increase of 5.3 percent from the same time last year.

Anchorage's unemployment rate mirrored movement on the state level for the month of March, rising less than a percentage point to 5 percent.

Elsewhere, unemployment dropped in Fairbanks and Juneau to 6.4 percent and 5.6 percent respectively.

Unemployment fell in the Panhandle to 9.2 percent and rose to 10.8 percent in the southwestern portion of the state. Unemployment in the Nome census area and Northwest Arctic Borough region rose to 12.6 percent in March.

The Aleutians East Borough continued to have the lowest unemployment rate in the state at just 3 percent. The Yakutat area had the highest rate at 19.6 percent.

Alaska typically begins to see its jobless rate fall in March as some of the state's seasonal jobs are added back, said Dan Robinson, labor economist with the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

Alaska has added 3,800 jobs since March 2001, a modest 1.4 percent increase. About 3,000 of the new jobs came in the retail and service industries, the department said.

Those jobs combined with growth in state and local government employment have compensated for some losses in the oil and seafood processing industries, Robinson said.

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