Seasonal unemployment falling slower than last year

Posted: Thursday, May 25, 2006

The unemployment rate in the Kenai Peninsula Borough in April fell seven-tenths of a point from March figures as seasonal industries began gearing up for the coming summer.

Preliminary data compiled by the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development shows the April rate at 9.7 percent, down from 10.4 percent in March.

However, the April figure was well above the 9.3 percent April figure for 2005.

The total number of people in the borough’s labor pool was 23,790, down from the April 2005 figure, 24,081. A total of 21,480 people were on the job in April 2006, some 370 less than a year ago.

Dan Robinson, a department economist, said Monday that there was a fair amount of volatility in the numbers, and the actual differences be-tween April 2005 and April 2006 might not be very significant.

A comparison of 2004 and 2005 fourth-quarter labor figures for the entire Gulf Coast, of which the borough is a part, do indicate a decline in employment and in the labor pool (defined as those looking for work).

The smaller labor pool might be attributable to several factors: workers moving away; poorer April weather this year leading to later employment than last year; and slightly more workers giving up looking for employment. Those folks would no longer be counted in the labor pool.

In general, April numbers can be misleading, Robinson said.

“April is not quite tourist season, yet,” he said.

Timing of employers’ preparations can vary from year to year, for instance in construction where weather can be a significant factor.

Employment in July and August will provide the most telling comparisons, but those figures won’t be available until late summer or early fall, he said.

While the Kenai Peninsula Borough numbers for April may be slightly lower than last year, statewide the job count was 4,400 more than in April 2005. That’s a 1.5 percent growth rate over the course of a year, and that growth showed up in most employment categories, Robinson said.

Alaska unemployment rate fell .2 percent in April to 7.5 percent from March figures, but remained .4 percent higher than in April 2005.



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