Slow Alaska job growth predicted for 2020

A new state economic report predicts that Alaska will experience slow job growth in 2020.

Analysis by the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development indicates a growth rate of 0.3%, or about 1,100 new jobs.

Alaska added about 1,600 jobs in 2019, while the state lost more than 11,000 jobs in the previous three years, the department's January research report said.

The report says the Kenai Peninsula Borough, the Valdez and Cordova census area and Kodiak Island, which the state categorized as the Gulf Coast Region, had an 0.7% increase in jobs between November 2018 and November 2019, The Peninsula Clarion reported.

The oil industry is expected to continue growing, with the addition of about 400 jobs in 2020. About 300 jobs were added to the industry last year, the report said.

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The biggest oil industry variable is the purchase by Hilcorp Energy Co. of the North Slope assets of BP Plc for $5.6 billion. The deal will likely result in job losses, mainly in Anchorage, the report said.

[BP Alaska says about half its 1,500 employees won’t be taking jobs with Hilcorp]

Many new jobs are expected to be added in the military, including new personnel at Eielson Air Force Base in Fairbanks, and in the tourism sector due to an expected increase in cruise ship visitors.

Nearly half of Alaska's visitors arrive on cruise ships, while 47% fly and 4% arrive by land or ferry, according to McDowell Group, an Anchorage research consultancy.

The health care industry is also expected to experience modest growth of about 400 jobs in 2020. However, nursing homes and group homes have been losing jobs for several years and those losses are expected to accelerate, the report said.