Alaska March Job Numbers Lower Amid Ongoing Pandemic Toll

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska had 21,900 fewer jobs last month than in March 2020, which was just before the state started experiencing large job losses due to the pandemic, the state labor department reported Friday.

The department said the March data provides the final comparison of a current month “to a comparatively healthy pre-pandemic month,” noting “massive” job losses hit in April 2020.

The leisure and hospitality sector saw the largest number of losses, with 7,200 fewer jobs last month than in March 2020, the department said. Among other sectors, oil and gas had 3,600 fewer jobs, professional and business services had 2,500 fewer jobs and mining and logging was down 2,800 jobs, the department said.

State government had 200 more jobs than in March 2020, which the department attributed to people hired for pandemic-related jobs in areas like public health and handling unemployment claims. There were 500 fewer federal jobs than in March 2020, when the Census was under way, the department said. The department attributed the 2,000 fewer jobs in local government primarily to jobs in K-12 public education.

The department said job losses “remain historically large,” with unemployment claims for the second week of March five times those of the same period last year.