Job losses climb slightly

Alaska lost some 1,600 jobs in January, dropping total employment by 0.5 percent, putting the state’s unemployment rate at 7.3 percent.

The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development said the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained at 7.3 percent, up from 6.5 percent at this time last year. The comparable national rate of unemployment was 4.1 percent.

Oil and gas employment declined by 600 jobs, or 5.9 percent, and construction by 300 jobs, or 2.5 percent.

The health care industry meanwhile added 1,100 jobs, or 3 percent, and transportation, warehousing and utilities saw an increase of 100 jobs, or 0.5 percent. Wholesale trade and financial activities remained at the same level as a year ago, as did other services, including repair, maintenance and personal services.

Federal employees dropped by 300 jobs, or 2.1 percent, state government by 200 jobs, or 0.8 percent, and local government by 200 jobs, or 0.5 percent.

Unemployment rates rose in all areas except Dillingham and the Aleutians, where winter fisheries buoyed the job market. Aleutians East and West also had the lowest unemployment rates in the state, at or near 3 percent.

Rates were highest in areas dependent on summer tourism, including the Denali Borough and Skagway, and rural areas with few jobs, including the Yukon-Koyukuk and Kusilvak census areas.