The State of Alaska says that May employment was down by 2,000, or 0.6 percent, from May 2017.
The biggest losses in the 49th state were in retail (-800) and state government (-500). The oil and gas, financial, professional and business services sectors lost 400 jobs over the year, according to the Department of Labor.
The health care sector continues to add jobs, with 1,000 added since May, 2017, much of it meeting the growing demand through Medicaid expansion, and manufacturing and other sectors added 600 jobs.
While employment was down, Alaska’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped slightly in May, to 7.2 percent. It’s been 7.3 since the beginning of the year. The two figures — with both employment and unemployment down — suggest that job losses have led to more people leaving the state for opportunity elsewhere. The national unemployment rate is 3.8 percent.
The lowest unemployment rate in Alaska was 4.1 percent in Sitka. Kusilvak Census Area (formerly Wade Hampton Census Area) continued to have the highest rate at 21.2 percent. That area in 2000 had an unemployment rate of 14.7 percent. The Kusilvak area is 19,673 square miles and has an overall population of 8,000.
The Alaska labor force was 362,496 in May. Of that workforce, 26,251 Alaskans were considered unemployed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In May of 2017, the workforce was 362,979, and 25,875 were considered unemployed.