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Changes in Alaska’s employment market

On Behalf of | Jul 20, 2021 | Employment and Labor Law

A low unemployment rate may be good for the economy, but it can make hiring new employees a challenge. While there were certain challenges with the COVID-19 pandemic, many of those are reversing now that much of the state is going back to business as (somewhat) usual.

Many companies saw drastic belt-tightening at the beginning of 2020, as governments provided mandates to protect people from COVID-19. With significant numbers of people laid off, unable to work or uncomfortable working, many businesses were operating with a smaller staff.

Here’s what you should know about the changes in the unemployment climate in Alaska.

Unemployment continues downward trend

2020 was a challenge for many states, and, thankfully, Alaska was not among those hardest hit. While there was a spike last year where Alaska’s unemployment rate hit 12 percent, that number has consistently trended downwards as the economy starts to recover.

Now, Alaska is slowly returning to pre-pandemic levels. Before the pandemic, Alaska had a 5.1 percent unemployment rate, and just a few months ago was just over six percent.

Still a long way to go

As the Alaska (and American) economy recovers, there continue to be fewer people claiming unemployment. However, there is still a significant gap between the beginning of the pandemic and now.

Prior to COVID-19, fewer than 15,000 Alaskans were filing for unemployment. During the height of the pandemic, that number peaked at over 50,000. Since then, Alaska has seen a downward trend with numbers at or below 32,000, but it is still higher than pre-COVID numbers.

While a low unemployment rate is beneficial for the state, it could become challenging for employers to find staff as the number trends downward. As these numbers improve, employers may need to consider incentives like signing bonuses to lure new employees.