Slow and steady growth is how the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation is describing the Anchorage economy over the next few years.
The group put out it’s three-year economic forecast on Wednesday to a packed crowd of local business people at the Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center.
AEDC President Bill Popp said the private sector is putting more jobs into the local economy, enough to offset cuts by government agencies. Six hundred new jobs have been created since the start of the year, Popp said, and he expects that trend to continue.
“1.2 to 1.4 percent job growth is what we are projecting over the next three years,” Popp said. “We feel like that’s a little robust, but we feel like the government layoffs are starting to ease just a little bit. If they flatten out, then the private sector will get back to bring our numbers into the really positive.”
Popp said one of the biggest challenges may be finding qualified workers to fill those new jobs, a problem employers are citing more often. He also said the price of oil is expected to drop, which will put more pressure on local governments to keep up services.
Despite those challenges, Popp said steady growth is predicted for the next three years. Mayor Dan Sullivan said he thinks the news is good.
“One percent growth in jobs means that the business community is gradually growing or new businesses are gradually coming in and that’s the kind of growth you want, just good steady growth,” Sullivan said.
The AEDC also took a survey of what it calls “consumer optimism,” which Popp said included more than 500 Anchorage residents. Sixty-three percent of those surveyed said they feel good about the Anchorage economy and where it’s headed.