Alaska’s March 2021 employment rates remain lower than last March

Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development said employment rates are lower in March...
Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development said employment rates are lower in March compared to the previous March.(KTUU)
Published: Apr. 16, 2021 at 10:19 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Alaska employment is nearly 7% lower in March of this year than in March 2020 due to the ongoing pandemic.

The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development issued a press release Friday morning, stating there was a loss of 21,900 jobs in March compared to the same month last year. The percentage loss amounts to -6.9% for the state.

The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has improved since April 2020, when Alaska’s rates reached nearly 12%, the unemployment rates are slowly returning to pre-pandemic numbers. As of February, the state unemployment rate is said to be at 6.6%. It was at 5.1% in March last year.

“Alaska’s unemployment rate has been a misleading economic indicator during COVID-affected months. Key inputs come from a household survey that has been harder to conduct and has produced data that are out of sync with job numbers and unemployment insurance claims,” the release said. “Job losses remain historically large, and the second week of March had five times the unemployment claims of the same week in 2020.”

However, positive those rates may appear, Alaskans in every industry, other than state government jobs which increased by 200, remain below the average monthly employment since the pandemic began.

The leisure and hospitality industry recorded the highest loss of 7,200 fewer jobs, or -23.3%, than the previous March. Oil and gas followed with 3,600 fewer jobs. However, that industry employed merely 9,900 people in March last year, making it the highest percentage loss of -36.4%.

In addition, professional and business services have 2,500 fewer jobs or -9.1%; the transportation, warehousing and utilities industry is down 2,000 jobs or -10%; and education and health are down 1,500 jobs or -2.9%.

Federal employment is down 500 from last March. And local government saw a loss of 2,000 jobs, primarily in K-12 public education.

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