Leisure, hospitality jobs increasing

The unemployment rate for the Valdez-Cordova census area was 5% in July, down from 6% in June and 7.8% in July a year ago, state labor officials said in their latest monthly report.

Statewide, July’s job numbers were up by 17,700 positions or 5.8% from a year ago, but still 30,100 jobs below July 2019 levels.

The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development said that industries hit hardest last year, as the pandemic spread, had the most new jobs, but few have reached pre-pandemic job levels. Leisure and hospitality were up 5,100 jobs over last July, but still remained 10,800 below July 2019 levels. Trade, transportation and utilities added 5,200 jobs over a year ago, but were 6,000 below 2019 levels.

The only major industry with fewer jobs this July than last year was oil and gas, which lost over 4,000 jobs in 2020, falling to as low as 6,100 late last year, the lowest job numbers in decades.

The big question this year for the state has been when those jobs would begin coming back. The July estimate of 6,800 jobs, along with small upward revisions to previous months’ numbers, suggests modest signs of recovery there, state labor officials said.

The number of local government jobs rose by 600, while remaining 2,900 below July 2019. State government jobs were up by 100 from a year ago and 1,100 down from 2019. Federal employment was higher than both years, by 400 and 700 respectively.

Alaska’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate held at 6.6 percent in July, while the comparable national rate fell from 5.9% to 5.4%.