Unemployment numbers showed a mild decrease on the Kenai Peninsula in August, and the number of jobs and the size of the labor force shrunk slightly, as well.
The latest Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development figures reflected a drop in the unemployment rate by three-tenths of a percentage point, falling from 9.6 percent in July to 9.3 percent in August.
Meanwhile, employment numbers fell from 22,944 in July to 22,337 for August. Labor force numbers fell, as well, dropping from 25,370 people either working or seeking work in July to 24,622 in August.
Although a loss to the labor force or to jobs often equates to a growth in unemployment, the peninsula's number of unemployed also shrank from August to July, showing a decrease from 2,426 to 2,285 reported jobless.
Labor economist Dan Robinson ex-plained this anomaly.
"Employment dropped, but unemployment dropped more as a percentage," he said.
The unemployment rate represents a percentage of the labor force that is unemployed, or the unemployment number divided by the labor force number.
"On the national front, the unemployment rate has stayed lower than expected, considering the current recession," Robin-son said.
"That's because people have dropped out of the labor force. Some people just get discouraged with looking for jobs and stop."
In the case of Alaska and of the peninsula, however, he said many people who held seasonal jobs during the summer months were either leaving the state as the jobs slow down or returning to work, like teaching, that wasn't active during the summer.
"For many, either they left or they planned all along on not working," Robin-son said.
The state as a whole followed the same trend as the peninsula in August, seeing slight losses to the unemployment rate, the number of jobs and unemploye, and the size of the work force.
Alaska's unemployment rate for August slipped from 6.9 percent in July to 6.7 percent, while the statewide work force shrunk from 657,693 to 652,190. The job count decreased from 333,148 to 328,458 and the number of unemployed dropped from 24,545 to 23,732.
Robinson said that in spite of the changes, Alaska's job market is still growing as the rest of the nation's continues to get smaller.
"We've continued adding jobs as rest of country has lost," he said. "Part of that is because we weren't in on the same job boom (during the 1990s) as the rest of country."
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