Employment in Alaska down 2.5 percent

Continued job loss was reported in most sectors of the Alaska economy for the third quarter of 2016, with employment down 2.5 percent from the prior year, state labor officials said Feb. 3.

Average monthly employment between July and September was 345,549, down 8,799 jobs, or 2.5 percent, compared to the same period in 2015, according to the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

Employers paid $4.7 billion in wages in the third quarter of 2016, which was 2.4 percent less than the inflation-adjusted $4.8 billion paid in the third quarter of 2015.

Private sector employment was down by 7,563, or 2.7 percent.

The largest losses were in the oil and gas sector, with 3,640 fewer jobs in the third quarter of 2016 than in the prior year, a loss of 25.7 percent.

The construction industry was down by 1,655 jobs, or 8.1 percent, with those jobs tied to declines in oil-related activity as well as reduced capital project spending. Less work in oil and construction also spurred losses in the professional and business services sector, which had 1,754 fewer jobs than the previous third quarter, a 5.6 percent decline.

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The downturn also hit other sectors. Wholesale and retail trade employment fell by 2.0 percent, and financial services dropped by 1.0 percent.

Seafood processing employment fell by 923 jobs, compared to the previous year, due to poor salmon runs.

On the bright side, the health care sector added 1,251 jobs over the prior year, and the leisure and hospitality sector also grew, with a strong summer visitor season, adding jobs in food services and arts, entertainment and recreation industries.

State government losses continued, with 1,207 fewer jobs in the third quarter of 2016 than the year before. Local government employment fell by 171.  Federal agencies continued to add jobs in the third quarter, but at a slower rate than the first half of the year.