2022 Alaska job forecast expects to recover 9,800 jobs over the coming year

Published: Jan. 11, 2022 at 9:32 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development released its 2022 job forecast and expects the state to recover about 9,800 jobs.

The 3.2% jump in jobs is an increase from the 2.3% uptick in 2021, leaving Alaska about 11,000 jobs short of where employment was in 2019, according to the report.

“Almost every industry lost a lot of ground, some a lot more than others,” state economist Neal Fried said. “Most of them are going to: we’re predicting are going to gain a fair amount of ground back. Some will get all the way back to where they were.”

The industries forecasted to meet or exceed their pre-pandemic job numbers were construction, health care and jobs provided through federal government. According to the report, the health care sector is on track to “fully recover” this year, with 500 added jobs forecasted for 2022. That sector had gained 900 jobs in 2021, the report found, which pushed health care employment above 2019 levels.

The oil industry, which lost jobs in both 2020 and 2021, is expected to gain 400 jobs this year according to the report, which still leaves its recovery as “the weakest among Alaska industries.”

“One of the premier industries is of course the oil industry and that one we’ve seen it got hit really hard during COVID,” Fried said. “... We’ve seen very little recovery so far in the numbers but we do expect things to improve.”

Alaska’s oil industry is forecasted to have 72% of the jobs it had in 2019 prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the report. Fried said job recovery in Alaska’s oil sector has been slow but he expects it to improve because of climbing oil prices.

“One thing that was encouraging to us was the visitor sector. It came in much stronger than we expected last year,” Fried said.

Anchorage, the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, the Kenai Peninsula, and Fairbanks had strong independent travel seasons in 2021, and Fried expects a full cruise season to help the Southeast, bolstering tourism numbers statewide.

The longtime state economist said he will be keeping an eye on the job market this summer to see how seasonal employers navigate a job market that’s making a major shift as people continue to leave their jobs at record numbers across the country.

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