Some Alaskans are getting back to work, but unemployment remains high

    Tens of thousands of Alaskans continue to be out of work, but those seeking or receiving unemployment insurance is beginning to tick down since the state began reopening sectors of its economy as the health impacts of the COVID-19 crisis remain low.

    For the week ending May 2, the state reports there were 50,971 Alaskans on unemployment, down 1,078 from the prior week, but still more than 43,000 from a year ago. Similarly, there were 7,807 seeking unemployment, up 7,036 from last year, but down 911 from the prior week.

    The drop in unemployment may continue through the summer as construction jobs increase, but many other businesses are still operating at a maximum of 25-50% capacity in accordance with state health mandates. These restrictions are expected to ease in the weeks ahead as Alaska’s COVID-19 numbers remain some of the lowest in the nation.

    Dan Robinson, head of research for the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, said earlier this month that the economic recovery will depend in part on whether Alaskans “spend freely or cautiously” as things open up. The dramatic drop in tourists will also impact Alaska businesses, he said.

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