JUNEAU, Alaska — Alaska’s August job count was down 10.5 percent from last August, a loss of 37,000 jobs. Pandemic disruptions continued to spur large over-the-year losses in all industries except federal government, which was up 1,400 jobs due to temporary hiring for the 2020 Census.
The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate declined from 11.6 percent in July to 7.4 percent in August, but that decline was more the result of COVID-related disruptions to the statistical methods the Bureau of Labor Statistics uses to calculate rates than an improvement that large in Alaska’s economy.
Unemployment insurance claims dropped by about 6,000 from July to August, but remained nearly seven times higher than last August. For now and the coming months, job numbers and unemployment insurance claims will be more reliable measures of the state’s economic health than the unemployment rate, which is a complicated measure that relies on a household survey that has been harder to conduct since the virus hit.
The same technical issues rolled down to Alaska’s not-seasonally adjusted unemployment rates for boroughs and census areas. Consequently, the August rates suggest a rosier picture of local economies than the unemployment insurance claims and regional job numbers support.