KENAI, Alaska — The unemployment rate in the Kenai Peninsula Borough rose in 2017 amid lingering financial struggles in the oil and gas industry.

The Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District’s summary said the borough lost 271 jobs over the course of the year. The borough’s unemployment rate rose to 8.7 percent from 7.7 percent.

But the job conditions in Kenai Peninsula improved from 2016. The borough lost 965 jobs between June 2015 and June 2016, the Peninsula Clarion reported Sunday.

And Kenai Peninsula Economic Development Director Tim Dillon said the year-end unemployment rate was actually lower than the rate in August, when it hit 9.4 percent.

“But we’re a full point off from where we were in the fall of last year,” Dillon said.

Statewide, the unemployment rate is about 7.3 percent, according to a Jan. 19 report from the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

Most of the job losses over the last five years have been in oil and gas, which are some of the highest-paying jobs in the state. However, in the first two quarters of 2017, the Kenai Peninsula added 20 oil and gas jobs, according to former state economist Alyssa Rodrigues.

During the same time, labor data showed that job losses continued into the retail and tourism sectors, both previously growing sectors on the Kenai Peninsula despite the downturn in oil and gas since mid-2015.


Information from: (Kenai, Alaska) Peninsula Clarion, http://www.peninsulaclarion.com