By Associated Press - Saturday, September 19, 2020

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - Alaska’s unemployment numbers improved in August but still remains historically high amid the coronavirus pandemic, the state’s labor agency reported.

In August, the state reported 37,000 fewer jobs than in the same month in 2019 for a 10.5% drop, said the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

That’s an improvement on numbers from July, when the state had 39,900 fewer jobs than it did in the same month last year - a roughly 11.2% decrease.

Still, more than 43,000 people are collecting unemployment benefits in the state as of the last week of August, a number almost 10 times higher than it was at this time in 2019, said Lennon Weller, a state labor economist.

In June, more than 65,000 people in Alaska collected jobless benefits, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

The state reported 112 new confirmed cases and one new confirmed death from the coronavirus on Friday, according to the state Department of Health. There have been at least 45 deaths in Alaska as a result of the coronavirus since the pandemic began.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some - especially older adults and people with existing health problems - it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

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