Alaska’s job losses are continuing but getting smaller

Alaska continued to lose jobs in September, but the state's unemployment rate was unchanged from August.

The state lost about 4,600 jobs last month compared to September 2016, the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development said Friday. That's a 1.3 percent decline in total employment, according to preliminary estimates.

Alaska's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 7.2 percent in September was still the highest in the country, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The rate had been creeping up consistently every month between March and August.

"Over-the-year job losses have gradually gotten smaller in 2017," the labor department said in its statement. The biggest job losses of the current downturn were in fall 2016.

“There is a pattern there … the losses are shrinking some,” said state economist Neal Fried. 

Oil and gas jobs, as well as construction jobs, were down 6.7 percent compared to September 2016, labor department numbers show. Health care, leisure and hospitality, and local government were the only sectors to add jobs, and gains were small. Other industries had "mostly modest losses," the department said.

Nationally, the unemployment rate last month was 4.2 percent. Fried has said before that it is not "terribly unusual" for Alaska to have one of the higher unemployment rates in the country, even when the state is not in a recession.

Annie Zak

Annie Zak was a business reporter for the ADN between 2015 and 2019.