Business Briefs

Posted: Thursday, July 11, 2002

Alaska's unemployment rate declines in May

Alaska's unemployment rate fell to 5.8 percent in May, a decrease of nine-tenths of a percentage point from April's rate of 6.7 percent, an Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development Report said.

The decline marks the beginning of Alaska's busy summer employment season. The comparable national rate fell two-tenths of a percentage point to 5.5 percent.

The number of unemployed Alaskans fell by more than 2,300 in May to 19,205, the lowest number reported in the month since 1998. Compared to May 2001, Alaska has almost 500 fewer unemployed persons, a decline of 2.4 percent. Initial claims for unemployment benefits fell sharply over the month to 7,354.

In the Kenai Peninsula Borough, this drop in unemployment was reflected by a decline to 1,986 unemployed. The May 2001 peninsula unemployment figure, however, was better with 123 fewer jobless individuals counted.

Preliminary wage and salary employment estimates indicate that the state added approximately 11,800 jobs in May. The estimates also show an over-the-year increase of about 2,300 jobs. Most of the over-the-year growth comes from trade, services and government. Oil, gas, logging and seafood processing are all down over the year.

New hospital board secretary-treasurer elected

Loretta Flanders has been elected secretary-treasurer of the CPGH Inc. board of directors. The board is the not-for-profit corporation which operates the borough-owned hospital. Flanders replaces Charles Obendorf, who recently resigned from the board position to perform missionary work, according to a hospital spokeswoman.

The board is also advertising to fill one vacant director position.

Fishing charter winner announced

The Kenai Chamber of Commerce announced Danny Swart as the June 26 "Hooked on Kenai!" drawing winner. Swart won a free fishing charter donated by Hooksetters Charters. The chamber plans to draw a new winner each week at the chamber lunches at Paradisos at noon Wednesdays through the end of August.

Small businesses change location in Soldotna

Fresh Air and Incense Burner, two small businesses formerly located in the Peninsula Center Mall, have just relocated to Heritage Square, across the Sterling Highway from Hutchins Chevrolet.

Fresh Air is an airbrush shop specializing in murals, T-shirts and helmet designs, among other things, and Incense Burner features incense from all over the world.

Eugene Chakers, co-owner of twin businesses, said the location change has been a help to both companies.

"It's been doing pretty (well) since moving," he said.

New restaurant opens on Exit Glacier Road

Exit Glacier Salmon Bake restaurant (adjacent to Salmon Bake Cabins) recently opened. Business hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. Coffee is free, and beer on tap and wine are served.

Chukchi Sea crab fishery begins to pick up

KOTZEBUE -- A survey of the potential of the Chukchi Sea crab fishery indicates the fishery is looking up after a slow start.

''We're coming back with anywhere from 50 to 60 crabs a day,'' said Bobby Richards, who along with eight other Kotzebue area crabbers is participating in the survey. The Bering Sea Fishermen's Association is conducting the survey, which will continue into late July.

Richards described how his catch has improved as he cooked up a batch of crabs in his kitchen last week.

''We had a slow start, but they're starting to pick up. All the crab are from the shore to five miles out,'' he said. ''Commercial's been doing pretty good, but the subsistence pots have really been nailing 'em.''

Will Barber, a biologist hired by the BSFA to run the survey, said there have only been about five or six crabbing days so far. The nine boats participating in the survey have been crabbing since June 16 but strong winds have kept the boats from venturing out. ''It seems like the crabbing is picking up,'' Barber said.

The survey is focusing around Sealing Point. The nine crabbers fish the area for three days and then take a day off to evaluate the data.

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