Alaska job count rises, while unemployment is lowest ever



Alaska’s employment rose by 1,110 jobs from November 2018 to 2019, and the unemployment rate fell to 6.1 percent, the lowest in history since unemployment was first measured in the 1970s.

In April of 2018, employment was down by 1,200 over the previous April. By November of 2018, overall employment was down 1,300 jobs. During the recession, the state lost an estimated 12,000 jobs since late 2015, shortly after Gov. Bill Walker came into office and started destabilizing the oil and gas sector.

Oil and gas sector has gained back the most jobs (400) this year, the first year of the Dunleavy Administration. Tourism was up by 300 jobs and health care jobs also gained 300. Retail lost 200 jobs and information technology jobs are down by 100.

According to the Department of Labor, the State has shed 600 state government jobs, primarily due to budget cuts at the University of Alaska. In local governments, the job count stayed flat, and the federal workforce increased by 100, in part because the U.S. Census Bureau has been hiring short-term workers for the 2020 Census. These are temporary jobs that will be in the “loss” category after the Census.

The lowest unemployment rate in the state was in government-rich Juneau, 4.4 percent, just above the national unemployment rate of 3.7 percent.

Sitka has a 4.6 percent unemployment rate and Anchorage has 4.8 percent unemployed.

Alaskans looking for work in the summer might try Skagway and Denali Boroughs, where tourism jobs are plentiful and in June and July the unemployment rates drop below the national average. By November these areas have some of the highest unemployment, 16.9 percent and 18.2 parent respectively.

Eight other areas also exceed 10 percent: Kusilvak Census Area, Bristol Bay Borough, Bethel Census Area, Northwest Arctic Borough, Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area, Hoonah-Angoon Census Area, Haines Borough and the Valdez-Cordova Census Area.

The challenge for Alaska job creators is whether former Gov. Bill Walker’s law partner Robin Brena will keep the oil and gas investments on the sideline, while the Brena oil tax hike is pending as a ballot initiative. Walker, a foe of the SB 21 legislation that stabilized taxes, joined forces with Brena after he left office, although he is not openly involved with the oil tax increase initiative called “Our Fair Share.”


  1. Wait a minute. This is not possible. Evil Dunleavy’s draconian cuts to the budget ruined the economy which is dependent on government spending.

    You’d better recheck those figures.

  2. Another example of just how destructive the Walker administration was to our state. In just over a year, all the metrics of positive growth are showing much better. Granted, UA will not agree, nor will the Democrats and RINO’S in Juneau who work tirelessly to hamper and fully halt the Dunleavy administration’s positive changes.

    IF the recall petition does continue to move forward, these positive employment statistics must be weapon one in fighting the recall.

  3. While I enjoy reading your articles this one is spun way too fancifully. Walker came into office facing an unprecedented budget deficit due to low oil prices. Parnell didn’t cut spending, Walker had to.

    SB21 is a big reason why Alaska has a huge budget deficit. I applaud Dunleavy for taking the budget deficit seriously and cutting the budget. But to pin all the problems on Walker is wrong and misinformation. The reason unemployment is going down in the oil patch is due to increased oil prices, not policy from either administration.

    • OSA,
      Not so my good man. Walker was the biggest disaster Alaska has ever had. Way worse than Knowles, even though he runs a close second. State spending spiraled into the stratosphere under Walker and we’re still recovering from it. Public employees enjoyed an expansion under Walker that was previously unheard of. SB 21 came under Walker’s supervision. Wasn’t that wonderful? It’s easy to make excuses for one or the other. Results matter, not excuses. Dunleavy has already done more to repair the damage to Alaska than Walker would have done in ten terms. That’s indisputable.

      • Ben is correct. Dunleavy inherited the mess created by Bill Walker. Democrats always get it wrong…..and make no mistake about it…..Walker was a Democrat. One half of the two little dwarfs, Dermot Cole, wrote a hit piece on Dunleavy today in FDN. As usual, little Dermot let’s his vitriol and partisan ill-temper get the best of him. Doesn’t Dermot know that hate can cause cancer?

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