Alaska Unemployment Rates Decline
Steady flow of people using unemployment benefits
ANCHORAGE - Alaska unemployment rates continued to decline in 2012, but the percentage of people receiving unemployment benefits has remained steady.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the 49th state has the highest insured unemployment rate in the country, and local economists said the numbers reveal a lot about Alaska’s job market.
“We can also get peeks into other numbers, like the number of people that may have given up getting work, but really want to work, or people that work part time,” said Neil Fried, an economist with Alaska’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
Emily Hodson is one of those people: The 20-year-old is taking classes at UAA, working on a novel, holding down two part-time jobs and looking for another one.
“I thought Alaska would hire more people cause the economy’s not that bad,” Hodson said. “I wouldn’t even mind working on the Slope.”
Hodson said she makes just over minimum wage at each of her two customer-service jobs. While she’s searching for a higher-paying job, she said she’s also considering filing for unemployment benefits as an alternative.
“If I got paid more I wouldn’t care, but I just think it’s not worth my time to get treated like a second-class citizen cause I work at a grocery store,” she said.
Rather than battling unsatisfactory schedules and low pay, she said the benefits would be a temporary fix and allow her to work on her trilogy series in peace.
“I’m not a lazy person, so if I don’t get a call back in a couple months, in the summer, of course I will go to unemployment,” she said. “That will be just a better opportunity.”
For better or worse, economists said unemployment benefits are changing the meaning of the “Land of Opportunity