Census area’s unemployment rates hold steady

State labor department economists say Alaska’s job count overall rose 3.8% over September 2020 in September 2021, an increase of 11,600 jobs, but still 25,500 jobs below September 2019 levels, However, for the Valdez-Cordova census area it held steady at 5.6%.

Industries that were hit hardest in Alaska by the COVID-19 pandemic grew the most, although few have returned to pre-pandemic job levels, according to the Oct. 22 report from the Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

Leisure and hospitality added 4,700 jobs compared to September 2020, but remained 9,000 jobs below September 2019.  Jobs in trade, transportation and utilities added 2,900 jobs over the year, but were still 5,200 jobs below September 2019.

In the oil and gas industry, employment remained below September 2020 levels, with 200 jobs fewer than in September 2020 and 3,100 jobs fewer than in September 2019. Oil and gas jobs appeared to bottom out late last year at about 6,200 jobs, according to the department’s report.

In local government, there were 400 more jobs than in September 2020, but 2,000 fewer than September 2019, and public education appears to be the main factor. State government jobs were down by 100 over a year ago and down 900 from 2019.  Federal employment also was down 700 jobs from September 2020 with the conclusion of the 2020 census, but up 200 from 2019, the report said.

Data charts showed that unemployment rates from September 2020 through September 2021 dropped from 6.6% to 5.0% in the Anchorage/Mat-Su region; from 6.6% to 5.7% in the Gulf Coast region; from 5.4% to 4.7% in the Interior; and from 6.7% to 4.6% in the Southeast region, but rose from 8.4% to 8.5% in the Northern region and 7.6% to 8.0% in Southwest Alaska.