The Anchorage economy is expected to grow by about 1,200 jobs in 2014, an increase of about .8 percent, according to a report from the Anchorage Economic Development Corp. released Wednesday.
The development agency's projection shows a continuation of the past few years of modest, steady employment growth. Last year, according to preliminary figures from AEDC, employment increased by 1,000 jobs over 2012, a .6 percent increase. The 2013 numbers came in substantially below AEDC's forecast last January of 1,700 new jobs.
The 2013 job gains came entirely in the private sector, which added about 1,800 jobs. Some of the biggest contributors to job growth by sector were: health care, 350 new jobs; retail trade, 250; professional and business services, 200; construction, 200; leisure and hospitality, 200; and oil and gas, 150.
In the public sector, the trend was the opposite, with a decrease of about 900 jobs. About 400 of those came from federal government employment, and about 500 from the Anchorage School District. The district represents about 72 percent of the roughly 10,400 local government jobs in the municipality.
In all, there were about 29,800 state, local and federal government jobs in Anchorage in 2013. This year's AEDC report says, "AEDC had not anticipated such a sharp decline (predicted only 300 fewer jobs). But it appears the downward trend in government employment in Anchorage will continue in 2014. AEDC predicts a loss of 400 government sector jobs in 2014."
Despite some population growth, unemployment in Anchorage dropped for the second year in a row, falling to an annual average of 4.9 percent, which was its lowest level since 2007. By contrast, in 2013, the national unemployment rate was 7.4 percent.
AEDC also predicts that Anchorage's population will increase by 1.1 percent this year, to a total of about 304,500.
The Consumer Price Index, a measure of inflation in Anchorage, increased by 3.1 percent from 2012 to 2013 while the national inflation rate dropped by 1.5 percent. The biggest contributor to rising inflation, according to AEDC, was higher costs for housing.