Job availability down 11 percent

Job opportunities were down 11 percent in September, with a loss of 37,600 jobs compared with September 2019, according to the Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

For the Valdez-Cordova Census Area itself, however, unemployment rates were 5.4 percent as of September 2019, compared with 5.3 percent for September 2020, indicating a very slight boost in job opportunity.

State labor officials said that the global novel coronavirus pandemic has kept job counts far below year-ago levels in all industries except federal government, which was up by 900 jobs from September 2019, due to temporary hiring for the 2020 census.

Jobs in the leisure and hospitality were hard hit the most, down by 13,600 or 33.5 percent. The transportation, warehousing and utilities sector had 6,000 fewer jobs, mainly in scheduled air transportation, and scenic and sightseeing transportation.

Labor officials said that recent revisions in employment data show steeper losses during the first several months of the pandemic than initially reported, particularly in transportation, warehousing and utilities; oil and gas; professional and business services and retail; while construction and manufacturing appeared to be slightly better off than initial estimates.

The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate declined slightly to 7.2 percent in September, and the comparable national rate was 7.9 percent.

Job losses remain historically large, and claims were more than six times higher than in September 2019.