Low oil prices are likely leading to Alaska's first annual jobs loss since 2009

On top of a fiscal crisis and dropping oil prices and production, Alaska is on track for its first year of job losses in seven years, according to an economic trends report released Thursday by the Alaska Department of Labor & Workforce Development.

The report forecasts a loss of 2,500 jobs in Alaska in 2016. That would amount to a loss of 0.7 percent, after gaining 1,700 jobs in 2015.

Those anticipated losses are tied directly to low oil prices, according to the report, which have largely driven the state government's $3.5 billion deficit. Oil prices were just above $33 per barrel on Thursday. Job losses will primarily be isolated to the oil and gas industries, the construction industry and state government, the report said.

According to the report, the oil and gas sectors are expected to lose about 1,000 jobs this year and construction is expected to lose 900 jobs. State government is forecast to lose another thousand jobs. The losses will be countered by small gains in sectors such as health care, which is expected to gain 500 jobs.

The last year the state lost jobs was in 2009, due to the nationwide economic recession. That year, Alaska saw a 0.4 percent job loss compared to 2008.

Although there has been speculation about a coming recession in Alaska, the report said that a repeat of the economic crash of the 1980s is unlikely.

"Alaska's economy and population are more mature today," the report said. "That's not to say projected job losses won't be serious or that they'll be short-lived."

Since 1987, the state has gained jobs in 27 out of 28 years. But with the straining economy, "dips in employment will be more common in the next 28 years than they were in the last," according to the report.

Annie Zak

Annie Zak was a business reporter for the ADN between 2015 and 2019.