March jobs down 6.9 percent from last March
April 16, 2021
JUNEAU, Alaska — Alaska’s March employment was down 6.9 percent from March 2020 — a loss of 21,900 jobs — as the pandemic continued to keep job counts well below year-ago levels. March data marks the last time we can compare a current month to a comparatively healthy pre-pandemic month. Massive job losses hit in April 2020.
Leisure and hospitality continued to record the largest losses, with 7,200 fewer jobs than the previous March (-23.2 percent). Oil and gas employment was down 3,600 (-36.4 percent). Professional and business services had 2,500 fewer jobs (-9.1 percent). The transportation, warehousing and utilities sector was down 2,000 (-10.0 percent), and the job count in private education and health care was 1,500 lower (-2.9 percent).
State government’s job count was 200 above the previous March, mostly from pandemic-related hires in public health and unemployment insurance. Federal employment was down 500 from last March, when the 2020 Census was under way. Local government losses were largest (-2,000), primarily in K-12 public education.
The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remained 6.6 percent in March. The comparable U.S. rate dropped from 6.2 percent to 6.0 percent.
As we’ve noted, Alaska’s unemployment rate has been a misleading economic indicator during COVID-affected months. Key inputs come from a household survey that has been harder to conduct and has produced data that are out of sync with job numbers and unemployment insurance claims. Job losses remain historically large, and the second week of March had five times the unemployment claims of the same week in 2020.