JUNEAU -

Alaska's unemployment rate is higher than the U.S. rate for the first time in nearly 5 ½ years.

But the state labor department says this is merely a return to normalcy. The department says Alaska's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was higher than the national rate from 1983 until late 2008, when the recession took hold.

Economist Dan Robinson says that's not to say the U.S. economy has fully recovered or that Alaska's economy is particularly healthy or unhealthy.

He said Alaska didn't have as far to go to recover from the recession and would characterize its economy as moderately healthy.

Alaska's unemployment rate stood at 6.4 percent in April, compared with 6.3 percent nationwide.

The Alaska rate was 6.6 percent in March and 6.4 percent in April 2013.