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Anchorage predicted to lose 1,600 jobs in 2016

  • Author: Annie Zak
  • Updated: May 31, 2016
  • Published January 27, 2016

Anchorage will likely lose about 1,600 jobs this year, a decline of about 1 percent from 2015, according to an economic forecast report released Wednesday by the Anchorage Economic Development Corp.

That's more than the loss of 1,200 jobs that the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development previously predicted for the city.

At a luncheon on Wednesday to release the report, AEDC President Bill Popp said that while a downturn appears to be near, those in the Anchorage business community should also realize that so far it doesn't look like anything resembling Alaska's economic crash during the 1980s.

"This is not 1986. This is not the disaster I have heard some people very fearful of," he said. "It's not time to go up on the roof and jump. Things are going to be tough but it's going to be a pinch, folks, not a punch."

Most of the job losses will be in the oil and gas, construction, business services and government sectors, according to the report, which was prepared by AEDC along with the McDowell Group. Health care and leisure and hospitality are expected to grow slightly.

The city's population is also expected to decline this year by 2,200, or about 0.8 percent. The report compares the 2016 forecast to preliminary employment and population numbers from 2015.

An improving economy in the Lower 48, combined with a tougher economy here, might contribute to more people leaving the city this year, along with layoffs in some sectors, the report said.

Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz also asked members of the business community at the event if they are prepared for what's ahead.

"Are you willing to drive through the tough times that are coming ahead?" Berkowitz said. "And, people say they're tough times, but they're not so tough. Tough is being out on the Bering Sea when you're crabbing. Tough is being on the North Slope when it's 40 below."

In the economic forecast, the AEDC wrote that, despite falling oil prices and a state government deficit, "Anchorage's $20 billion-plus economy has the size, diversification and resiliency to ride out the rough water ahead, much more so than during previous oil price shocks."

AEDC's annual business confidence index shows that businesses do indeed think times are pretty tough.

Nearly 240 businesses and organizations in Anchorage, Eagle River and Chugiak said they are more pessimistic about the Anchorage economy in 2016 than any of the past seven years.

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