Employment in Anchorage is on the rise, according to spring data published by the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation. The organization reports a net increase of 1,000 jobs in April 2019, compared to the same time last year. A significant part of that growth, the corporation says, may be attributed to the Nov. 30 earthquake

"We're seeing a little bit of positive numbers starting to make themselves apparent in business and professional services, which is architects and engineers," AEDC president and CEO Bill Popp told Daybreak on Wednesday. "We think that has again something to do with earthquake recovery as well as things going on in the oil patch."

According to the report, the construction industry has added 700 jobs since the beginning of the year. Popp says the industry is struggling to keep up with demand. 

"I hear a lot of contractors complaining about not being able to find enough construction workforce to deal with all the work that is coming their way related to earthquake recovery. That's kind of caught everybody by surprise for this building season," Popp said.

Another challenge for the industry, Popp says, is in the hands of elected officials.

"We don't have an approved capital budget," Popp said. "The Association of General Contractors is expressing their deep concern about the fact that if we don't get this budget passed, that's going to potentially put thousands of jobs at risk in the construction season this year."

The House and Senate held differences on a $1.4 billion capital budget, which pays for state road and construction projects. The House looked to use a savings account called the Constitutional Budget Reserve, but did not get the necessary three-quarter support needed.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy has called a special session begin on July 8 in Wasilla. 

While construction jobs are up in Anchorage, retail is down - by about 400 jobs, according to the AEDC data. Even so, Popp says the figure is encouraging. 

"We're going past the numbers where we saw losses in Sears and Sam's Club and Toys R Us, national chains that made national decisions that affected our economy," Popp said. "We had about 15,000 jobs posted in the last 90 days, that's up modestly from where we were that same 90-day period last year."

Popp says in the coming weeks, AEDC will release a similar report on Anchorage employment in the month of May.

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