State economists study economic impact of pandemic

Published: Jun. 22, 2020 at 7:05 PM AKDT
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It's one of the largest topics in Alaska and nationwide.

How does a state like Alaska recover from this pandemic economically? Neal Fried, a state economist, is studying the economic damage and pace of recovery.

"It's just sort of begun, the damage, we just began to be able to measure it with our April statistics, and in April, Alaska lost about 42,000 jobs, which is over 13%. We are sort of in the middle of the pack in the country, but I mean that is the biggest loss in jobs we've experienced. Before was during the 80s when we lost about 20,000 over a 2-3 year period. This was all in one month, now, of course, this may not last that long either, that is the big question, how persistent is this going to be?" Fried said.

Fried says another concern is that in Alaska, this is the time of year when a lot of people and businesses earn their wages

"Ever since 1960, we've gained jobs in April and May, so this will be a first, and then hopefully by June as people are coming back to work and as seasonal industries start kicking it in a big way, hopefully, the numbers might start turning positive by then, but we know they aren't going to turn nearly as positive as they normally do," he said.

What is the key to economic recovery?

"The key is how long are these impacts going to occur? It is really sort of a couple different forces, one is, as we open up, and local consumers regain confidence and start spending more on local businesses, and their local consumption, that is a big part of the equation, and that is sort of what is beginning to happen now," Fried said.

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