Alaska job numbers in April up over a year earlier

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska had about 6,700 more jobs last month than a year earlier but jobs in most sectors had not recovered to pre-pandemic levels, the state labor department reported Friday.

There were about 11,800 fewer jobs in April than there were in April 2019, the year before the pandemic, the department said.

The biggest year-over-year gain was in the leisure and hospitality sector, which had about 3,900 more jobs last month than in April 2021. The transportation, trade and utilities sector had about 1,400 more jobs than the prior year, and there were about 500 more jobs in oil and gas.

But job numbers in most sectors lag levels reported in April 2019, the department said. The education and health care sector had 100 more jobs last month than in April 2019. But there were 1,700 fewer jobs in trade, transportation and utilities, 1,100 fewer in leisure and hospitality and 2,700 fewer in oil and gas last month than in April 2019.

Karinne Wiebold, an economist with the department, said recently that Alaska began seeing year-over-year growth in total employment in April 2021, a year after the “initial employment shock” from the pandemic hit.

She said high oil prices could encourage more employment in the oil and gas sector but said it’s unclear if the sector will reach its past highs. She noted that job gains in that sector have so far been slow.

Near- and mid-term job growth in the state could be dampened by supply chain issues, inflation and worker shortages, she told The Associated Press last month.

Alaska is making progress in recovering from the economic hit of the pandemic “but there will continue to be bumps in the road,” Wiebold said.