Unemployment rate remains at 6.5 percent

Employment is up in the construction industry in Alaska, along with state government hiring, but state labor officials reported that overall March employment rose by just 0.3 percent.

The seasonally adjusted February unemployment rate remained at 6.5 percent, and the comparable national rate remained at 3.8 percent, the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development said in a report on April 19.

Construction has added 1,100 jobs since last March, followed by health care and the transportation, warehousing and utilities sector, with each adding 400 jobs. Manufacturing, mostly in seafood processing in Alaska, had the biggest over-the-year decline at 500 jobs, and professional and business services fell by 300, the state report said.

The number of state jobs rose by 100, while federal jobs fell by 200 and local government positions by 100.

Non-seasonally adjusted rates fell in most areas, while rising slightly in five, and remained the same in the Kodiak Island Borough.

The lowest unemployment rates were in the Aleutians East Borough, 2.2 percent, and the Aleutians West Census Area, 2.9 percent, due to winter fishing, while in Kusilvak, which has a high unemployment rate year-round, unemployment stood at 21.3 percent.

Last month, rates in Skagway, Denali and Hoonah-Angoon were also over 20 percent, but preparing for the visitor season pushed those rates down in March. The state’s largest rate decline was in Skagway, where it fell from 23 percent in February to 18.5 percent in March.