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Business/Economy

Alaska unemployment rate up slightly in July

Alaska's rate of unemployment went up slightly in July and remained the highest in the nation, according to the state's department of labor and workforce development.

The unemployment rate was 7 percent in July, according to an announcement on Friday, up two-tenths of a percent from the previous month and well above the national rate of 4.3 percent.

Alaska continued to have the highest unemployment rate in America in July, according to the national Bureau of Labor Statistics. Next was the District of Columbia at 6.4 percent, New Mexico at 6.3 percent and Louisiana and Kentucky both at 5.3 percent.

According to the department, employment was down an estimated 7,500 jobs from July 2016. Preliminary estimates show job losses spread across most industries, but the press release notes that the "deepest" losses remain concentrated in industries closely tied to oil and gas.

The press release notes that the state economy lost about 1,500 oil and gas jobs, 1,200 construction jobs, 1,000 jobs in business service and 1,000 jobs in state government over the last year.

Local and federal government jobs and health care were the only industries to gain jobs over the last year, according to the department.

Unemployment rates fell in 25 of 29 boroughs and census areas. Fishing and tourism led to job growth in Bristol Bay and Aleutians East and West and Skagway, which all had unemployment rates of under 3 percent. The Kusilvak Census Area had the highest rate of unemployment at 24.5 percent.

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