Kodiak’s unemployment rate dropped to 5.5% in June, according to a Department of Labor update issued Friday. This is down from 6.3% in May and down from 8.1% in June 2020.

The Department of Labor publishes reports monthly on previous months’ trends, though the most recent posting is derived from only preliminary data.

Unemployment insurance claims, however, continue to fluctuate. According to UI claim data for Kodiak Island Borough, 375 claims were filed in June, down only slightly from 389 in May but higher than the 345 claims filed in April. 

In November 2020, 601 people in Kodiak filed unemployment claims, and Kodiak’s unemployment rate reached 10.6%. It was the highest unemployment rate since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020.   

Overall unemployment for the Gulf Region, which includes Kodiak, was at 6.7% in June, down from 7.2% in May and down drastically from the 11.1% reported in June 2020.

Statewide, the seasonal adjusted unemployment rate remained at 6.6% in May, against the national increase from 5.8% to 5.9%.

According to a Department of Labor news release, several industries met or approached their 2019 job levels statewide. Construction had 18,600 jobs, which was 1,200 above 2020 and on par with 2019. Health care employment was up 1,100 from 2020 and also similar to 2019 numbers. 

Manufacturing, which is mainly seafood processing in Alaska, was 1,200 above 2020 job levels and only about 100 jobs below 2019.

Local government sector jobs were up 1,000 from last June but down 5,500 from June 2019, according to the news release. State government employment was up 300 from last year and down 700 from 2019. Federal employment was higher than both years, by 300 and 500, respectively.

Some Gulf Region industries saw large gains, including 800 manufacturing jobs for a total of 3,300 up from 2,500 in May. All manufacturing gains were in seafood processing, which totaled 2,900, slightly higher than the 2,700 seafood processing jobs in June 2020. 

Seafood processing has its seasonal swings, according to unemployment trends. Summer months typically see a spike in July and August and start declining after September. However, the Gulf Region’s average for 2020 was much lower than 2019, prior to the pandemic.

The trades, transportation and utilities industry saw a 900-job increase to 6,400, up from 5,500 in May. Other big gains included leisure and hospitality, up 1,100 from 4,100 the month before, positively impacted by the relaxing of pandemic-related travel restrictions. 

Regions dependent on tourism have seen an incredible decrease in unemployment rates, such as Skagway, which reported 12.2% unemployment in June compared to 26.1% the previous year, and Denali, which reported 9.8% compared to the 19.8% reported the previous year.

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