Unemployment rate up in Anchorage, oil and gas, construction jobs lost
More people were unemployed in Anchorage in March than the same time last year, according to the latest Anchorage Employment Report. That report was released by the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation Monday.
The report shows the March 2016 unemployment rate was 5.6 percent, up 0.4 percent from March 2015. Overall, Anchorage has lost 100 jobs from this time last year.
The “good producing” job sector is where the loss of jobs is most pronounced — in mining, oil and gas production and manufacturing. The report shows the oil and gas industry is down 400 jobs and the construction industry is down 300 jobs.
“It’s a step back, none of us like to see this,” said AEDC president and CEO Bill Popp. “It’s most definitely the result of tough times in the oil patch, with oil in the $40s, it’s just we’re seeing the effects of that.”
Popp said it’s not an economic collapse, but the loss of those high paying jobs will have an impact.
“We’re still seeing some energy in the economy and the question will be, ‘how long will it be before we start to feel a little bit of that slow down in the broader economy?’” Popp said.
Retail is one sector of Anchorage’s economy that’s growing. The AEDC report shows there are 700 more service jobs now than this time last year. Healthcare and transportation are also growing.
“Tourism is one out of 10 jobs in Anchorage. The airport is one out of 10 jobs in Anchorage,” Popp explained. “If they’re both doing well, that’s one out of five jobs that are going to have a pretty good year this year.”
The start of tourism season is showing on Fourth Avenue. A number of shops and restaurants had “help wanted” signs in their windows, including Trapper Jack’s, a souvenir shop hoping to hire 30 people.
“We need people to give the service,” said sales associate Sepideh Hastings. “We have a lot of people coming to Alaska, especially Anchorage, especially downtown Fourth Avenue, so we try to have enough people to give the best service.”
Popp said the Legislature will play a big role in how things develop for Anchorage and the state. He said lawmakers need to come up with a plan forward — for the Permanent Fund, taxes and the state budget — so that businesses and people can make a plan.
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