January 23, 2004
Ketchikan's unemployment rate rose from 8.4 percent in November to 9.2 percent in December.
According to Robinson, the number of unemployed Alaskans rose from 25,093 to 27,462 in December with the number of unemployed in Ketchikan reported as rising from 597 in November to 644 in December.
All of the state's six economic regions saw higher December unemployment rates, with the most noticeable jumps coming in the Gulf Coast and Southeast regions. Within the Gulf Coast region, both the Kenai Peninsula and Kodiak Island Boroughs recorded large December increases in unemployment.
In several Southeast communities claims for unemployment benefits, one of the inputs used to calculate the unemployment rate, increased dramatically. For example, the Wrangell-Petersburg area saw claims rise from 172 in November to 264 in December. Claims in Sitka jumped from 164 to 225, and in the Prince of Wales-Outer Ketchikan area the number increased from 174 to 238.
Anchorage enjoyed the state's lowest unemployment rate in December by a wide margin. Accoring to Robinson, at 5.2 percent, Anchorage's rate is at least 1.7 percentage points lower than any other area in the sate. The unemployment rate in Fairbanks rose by six-tenths of a percentage point to 7.0 percent, while Juneau's rate climbed five-tenths to 6.9 percent.
Robinson reported that wage and salary employment estimates for December showed a decline of 2,400 jobs. Seasonal job losses in the construction and seafood processing industries accounted for nearly all of the reduction. The health care industry continues to be a bright spot, adding about 500 jobs in December and 2,400 over the last twelve months. Across all industries, the state has added an estimated 5,100 jobs to the economy since December 2002.