Alaska job losses continue as recession enters third year

May employment down 2,000 from last year; 11,800 from May 2015

The Alaska Department of Labor building is seen in 2015. (Juneau Empire file)

The Alaska Department of Labor building is seen in 2015. (Juneau Empire file)

Alaska’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped a statistically insignificant 0.1 percent between April and May, according to preliminary figures from the Alaska Department of Labor, and job losses are continuing as a statewide recession enters its third year.

Alaska’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 7.2 percent in May, a slight improvement from 7.3 percent. The comparable national rate is 3.8 percent, the lowest it has been since the late 1960s.

Karinne Wiebold, an economist with the Department of Labor (which produces the monthly unemployment report), said the decline “is not statistically significant and is preliminary, so it may be revised.”

Alaska employment is heavily seasonal, with peaks in the summer and dips in the winter. The seasonally adjusted rate smoothes those swings to reveal actual trends.

Wiebold said a better indicator of Alaska’s economy are the number of jobs in the state.

According to the new figures, 333,300 people were employed in Alaska in May 2018. That’s down 2,000 jobs from May 2017 and 11,800 from May 2015, the pre-recession peak.

Southeast Alaska is down about 400 jobs from a year ago, Wiebold said.

• Contact reporter James Brooks at or 523-2258.

More in News

A Princess Cruise Line ship is docked in Juneau on Aug. 25, 2021. (Michael Lockett / Juneau Empire File)
Ships in Port for the week of Sept. 25

Here’s what to expect this week.

Screenshot / Alaska Public Media’s YouTube channel 
Bob Bird, left, chairman of the Alaskan Independence Party, and former Lt. Gov. Loren Leman make the case in favor of a state constitutional convention during a debate in Anchorage broadcast Thursday by Alaska Public Media.
Constitutional convention debate gets heated

Abortion, PFD factor into forum.

Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire
Faith Rogers’ loved ones, from left to right, James Rogers (father), Michelle Rogers (sister), Harmony Wentz (daughter), Maria Rogers (mother) and Mindy Voigt (friend) sit with Faith’s three dogs in their family home. Faith Rogers, 55, of Juneau was found dead along a popular trail on Wednesday, Sept. 21. Police are investigating the death as a homicide.
‘It’s shocking’: Family hopes for answers after suspicious death of loved one

“She wanted to make things beautiful, to help make people beautiful…”

People work together to raise the Xa’Kooch story pole, which commemorates the Battle of the Inian Islands. (Shaelene Grace Moler / For the Capital City Weekly)
Resilient Peoples & Place: The Xa’Kooch story pole — one step toward a journey of healing

“This pole is for the Chookaneidi, but here among us, many clans are represented…”

A bracket fungus exudes guttation drops and a small fly appears to sip one of them.( Courtesy Photo / Bob Armstrong)
On the Trails: Water drops on plants

Guttation drops contain not only water but also sugars, proteins, and probably minerals.

A chart shows what critics claim is poor financial performance by the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority, especially in subsidizing private industry projects intended to boost the state’s economy, during its 55-year existence. The chart is part of a report released Tuesday criticizing the agency. (MB Barker/LLC Erickson & Associates/EcoSystems LLC)
AIDEA’s fiscal performance fishy, critics say

Report presented by salmon industry advocates asserts state business subsidy agency cost public $10B

Police vehicles gather Wednesday evening near Kaxdigoowu Héen Dei, also known as ]]Brotherhood Bridge Trail, while investigating a homicide. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
Police: Woman was walking dogs when she was killed

JPD said officers are working “around the clock” on the criminal investigation.

Most Read