Alaska will see modest job losses in 2018, new report says

Published: Jan. 3, 2018 at 12:14 PM AKST
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Data is sourced from the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development's

January 2018 issue.


A recently released employment forecast for 2018 indicates that Alaska is expected to lose jobs for the third year in a row. However, the state labor department also expects the losses to taper off to a more moderate level, compared to earlier in the recession.

"We're forecasting job losses statewide – in Anchorage and most places [for 2018]," said Neal Fried, economist with the Alaska Department of Labor & Workforce Development. "The one exception is Fairbanks."

Across the state, ADOLWD forecasts employment to decline by 0.5 percent – or 1,800 jobs – in 2018. Overall, this is a brighter employment outlook, compared to declines of 1.1 percent in 2017 and 1.9 percent in 2016. Last year, Alaska lost approximately 3,600 jobs. And in 2016, an estimate of 6,300 jobs were lost.

Additionally, economists forecast Anchorage employment to decline by 0.7 percent, and the Southeast to decline by 0.6 percent. Meanwhile, Fairbanks – an outlier – is expected to increase by 0.8 percent. The report attributes this comeback due to a "big jump in military construction."

During the state's recession, the report claims that a majority of these losses took an especially heavy toll on a few specific industries, including:

• Construction

• Oil and Gas

• Professional and Business Services

• State Government

"When oil prices plummeted in late 2014, state government was the first to feel the pinch as falling tax revenue from the oil and gas industry decimated state revenues," explains the report.

By early 2015, Alaska's state government began making job cuts. And while the oil and gas industry was able to maintain high employment throughout most of the year, the report shows a plunging job decline of 20.4 percent in 2016.

So now that these specific sectors appear to be "stabilizing at lower levels," ADOLWD economists believe this is a primary factor for the expected tapering job losses, in 2018.

"I think we have to look at the oil sector – that's changed a lot," says Fried. "We're expecting those job losses to be much smaller this year."

However, while losses are slowing, the department cautions that "recovery will depend on a long-term budget solution."

"That tapering will continue this year, and it's possible at some point this year we'll quit losing jobs," Fried adds. "We could begin to see the end of this recession, but we've lost a lot of ground – we have a lot of ground to make up."

For a detailed look at Alaska's forecasted jobs breakdown, check out the interactive data visualization, above. You will find statewide employment forecasts by industry, along with city outlook comparisons and more.

Samantha Angaiak, reporter with KTUU, contributed to this report.