The entrance to the Kenai Peninsula Job Center is seen here in Kenai, Alaska on April 15, 2020. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

The entrance to the Kenai Peninsula Job Center is seen here in Kenai, Alaska on April 15, 2020. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

Alaska’s economic downturn continues

Both job numbers and unemployment showing significant changes from last year.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt the state’s economy, with both job numbers and unemployment showing significant changes from last year.

Alaska’s job count for the month of May was down 12.2%, or 40,900 jobs, from the same time last year, according to a Friday press release from the Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

The job count is the total number of people employed in a given industry and is calculated by the department of labor each month to gauge the state of Alaska’s economy.

Every major industry in Alaska reported fewer people employed in May 2020 compared to May of 2019, according to the press release.

Employment in the leisure and hospitality industry has been hit the hardest, with 15,300 fewer jobs in May 2020 compared to last year. There were 2,900 fewer jobs in the health care industry, which the department attributes to the suspension of nonurgent care in response to the pandemic. Retail employment was down by 2,600 jobs, and the transportation, warehousing and utilities industry lost 2,700 jobs, mostly in transportation.

Local government, including public schools, saw a job reduction of 6,200. State government employment also declined by 1,000 jobs due to losses in general revenue and cuts within the University of Alaska system. With the slowdown of the 2020 census, federal employment was also down by 200 in the state.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough saw slight improvement in its unemployment rate between April and May, but the borough’s preliminary unemployment rate for May is still at 14.2%, more than double the rate in 2019 (6.2%), according to data from the department of labor’s Research and Analysis Section.

Statewide, the seasonally adjusted unemployment was at 12.6% in May, a slight reduction compared to April’s unemployment rate of 13.5%. Alaska’s unemployment rate is also slightly better than the national average, which was 13.3% in May.

Reach reporter Brian Mazurek at

More in News

An adult, female bald eagle was rescued from a tree Saturday in Juneau. The eagle was taken to Alaska Raptor Center in Sitka. (Courtesy Photo | Kerry Howard)
Juneau bald eagle rescued on Fourth of July

Injured but conscious, the raptor will get treatment in Sitka.

Robin Richardson, right, and her coworker Ellen Paffie from Georgia get ready for the night shift at White Plains Hospital in White Plains, New York on May 7, 2020. (Photo courtesy Robin Richardson)
Soldotna nurse joins COVID-19 fight at New York hospital

Richardson cared for 53 critically ill COVID-19 patients. Only two of those patients lived.

COVID-19. (Image CDC)
COVID-19 week in review: Case count jumps; new hospitalizations, deaths reported

The current average positivity rate for all tests conducted is 1.39%.

‘Crowning jewel’

Iron Mike statue unveiled at Soldotna Creek Park

The entrance to the Kenai Peninsula Borough building in Soldotna, Alaska is seen here on June 1, 2020. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)
Assembly to consider declaring 2nd Amendment ‘sanctuary’

The proposed ordinance opposes legislation restricting rights protected by the Second Amendment.

Bikers participate in the Fourth of July Parade in Kenai on July 4, 2019. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, officially sanctioned events for July 4 — including the parades in Kenai, Seward and Homer and the Mount Marathon Race in Seward — have been canceled. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)
A quiet 4th of July

With public events canceled, officials urge residents to practice caution.

COVID-19. (Image CDC)
Seward takes emergency measures as cases rise

Alaska has had 1,226 cases of the disease since the state began tracking the pandemic in March.

COVID-19. (Image CDC)
38 new resident COVID-19 cases seen

It was the largest single-day increase in new cases of COVID-19 among Alaska residents.

Anglers practice social distancing on the upper Kenai River in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge in late June 2020. (Photo provided by Nick Longobardi/Kenai National Wildlife Refuge)
Exploring the Kenai’s backyard

Refuge to start open air ranger station

Most Read