Alaska unemployment rate drops to 5.9% in May; Anchorage at 4.7%

Alaska's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 5.9 percent in May, down slightly from April and well below the national rate of 7.6 percent, the state Labor Department reported Friday. The rate in Anchorage was 4.7 percent in May.

With summer businesses getting going, unemployment rates fell in 21 or 29 census areas statewide, the department reported. Biggest drops were in Skagway, which sees a big increase in cruise ship visits, and the Denali Borough, which is heavily dependent on Denali National Park and other tourism business, the department noted.

Unemployment increased in seven areas, with the biggest jumps in the Aleutians East Borough and Aleutians West cencus area. "May is sandwiched between winter and late-summer western fisheries, and is typically a slow month for the Aleutian chain," the department said.

The highest unemployment rate in the state was in the Wade Hampton Census Area of rural western Alaska, at 22.1 percent.

The 4.7 percent unemployment rate in Anchorage in May was a slight drop from 4.8 percent in April. It was 5.6 percent in May 2012.

The rate for Mat-Su was 6.5 percent in May, down from 7.0 percent in April and 7.7 percent in May 2012.

The overall rate for the Anchorage/Mat-Su region was 5.1 percent in May.

Elsewhere for May:

• Kenai Peninsula Borough: 6.7 percent, down from 7.4 percent in April.

• Fairbanks North Star Borough: 5.2 percent, down from 5.5 percent in April.

• City and borough of Juneau: 3.9 percent, down from 4.3 percent in April.

Anchorage Daily News /