A Difficult Road Ahead
The impacts of COVID on Anchorage’s economy have been severe, and will continue to wreak havoc for years to come, according to a report released by the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation (AEDC) last week.
At a virtual luncheon on Wednesday, August 5, AEDC president and CEO Bill Popp presented data from the report. All the job gains Anchorage has seen since 2001 have been erased, Popp said, on top of four years of existing job loss.
Statewide, there were 37,700 fewer jobs this year than last year. In Anchorage, there were 16,000 fewer jobs.
Despite this gradual trend of job losses, the unemployment rate was improving until COVID, because the labor force was shrinking. But when the pandemic struck and businesses were closed, the city unemployment rate rose to 8.8%, and then 13.9% in April — a total of 20,000 workers unemployed.
“Historically, there is no year on record in the modern history of Anchorage that comes close to the scale of these job losses in a single month or year,” Popp said at the luncheon.
Most of the job losses have been in hospitality. The report estimated that job counts will rebound next year.
There have also been shifts in the types of jobs that are hiring to include more jobs in retail. The demand for nurses, as always, is high.
The tourism and oil and gas industries have also been tremendously impacted by the virus, even though the former had a record-breaking year in 2019.
Looking ahead, the report estimates that population losses will rise in 2021 “if the Alaska economy lags behind the recovery in the Lower 48 economy.” The report also estimates that even as the economy adds jobs, it will still remain thousands of jobs behind pre-pandemic levels in years to come.
“It has taken us years to get to where we are today, and it will take us years to get the Anchorage and Alaska economy back to where we started,” Popp said.
Read the report here: aedcweb.com/project/2020-3-year-outlook-report