Alaska recession impacts may be further reaching in 2017

Published: Mar. 24, 2017 at 8:07 PM AKDT
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Alaska lost 6,500 jobs between February 2016 and February 2017 according to the Department of Labor & Workforce Development from sectors of the economy tied directly to the oil industry.

“But the losses are starting to become more widespread, we’re seeing a lot of losses in retail, manufacturing,” said Economist Conor Bell.

He says the impact of those job losses is starting to affect consumer spending.

“We do expect losses in industries that were pretty stable throughout 2016,” said Bell.

At the same time Alaska’s unemployment rate stood at 6.4% for February this year compared to 6.6% for February last year.

Bell says it’s hard to say exactly why the unemployment rate doesn’t reflect the job losses but one factor is baby boomers are reaching retirement age, “There’s also more people leaving the state that moving to the state,” Bell said.

Compared to the lower 48 states, Alaska’s unemployment rate is the second highest according to Bureau of Labor Statistics. “…as the nation has recovered from the recession they have settled back to the regular trend of being significantly below our unemployment rate,” Bell said.