Alaska Unemployment rate at 6.5 percent in December


Juneau, AK   (CompNewsNetwork) - Alaska's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose one-tenth of a percentage point to 6.5 percent in December, according to the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development. The comparable national rate rose three-tenths of a percentage point to 5.0 percent.

Alaska's rate has been slowly climbing since hitting a low point of 5.8 percent in April. Over that period, the seasonally adjusted number of unemployed people has risen from 20,139 to 22,966, and although employment has grown, it's done so at a slightly slower rate.

At 5.1 percent, Anchorage's December unemployment rate is about the same as December 2006's 5.0 percent rate (not seasonally adjusted). The state's other population centers, including Mat-Su, Fairbanks and Juneau, also saw little over-the-year change to their unemployment rates.

The Skagway-Hoonah-Angoon Census Area had December's highest rate at 21.1 percent and the North Slope Borough had the lowest at 4.5 percent.  Payroll employment estimates for December fell by 3,500, due mostly to expected seasonal declines in seafood processing and construction. Over-the-year growth has slowed in the second half of the year, however, and was just 0.6 percent in December.

The most noticeable restraint on growth has been construction, which was down 900 jobs from December 2006 levels. Oil and gas continues to show strong over-the-year growth, with 700 more jobs in December than a year ago, but most of those gains came earlier in the year.

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