After years of loss, job growth expected in Anchorage in 2019

In 2019, Anchorage is expected to see 0.2 percent job growth. (Photo by Abbey Collins/Alaska Public Media)

After years of job loss in Alaska, optimism about the state’s economy is growing. And, zooming in on Anchorage, that remains true. The Anchorage Economic Development Corporation is forecasting positive change for the city in 2019.

The biggest takeaway from the AEDC’s forecast for the coming year: this recession that’s been dragging on since 2015 — it’s probably going to end.

“We’re feeling reasonably confident that the recession is at its end or very near,” Popp said.

Bill Popp is the AEDC’s president and CEO. He spoke to a packed room at the corporation’s annual economic forecast luncheon at the end of January.

Popp’s optimism is shared by state economists, who project Alaska will start gaining a modest amount of jobs in 2019.

The AEDC’s report is compiled by the McDowell Group, that pulls data from the state Labor Department.

In 2019, Anchorage is expected to see 0.2 percent job growth. That’s a modest number, but it’s not nothing after years of job loss.

That growth is expected to come from a number of different industries. Construction jobs are expected to grow. Gains are also expected in tourism, air freight, oil and gas. The city is also poised to see continued growth in the healthcare industry.

On the flip side, the retail industry looks like it will continue to struggle. And declines should continue for government jobs.

And Popp said there are other challenges for Anchorage.

“Locally, we are facing many challenges with homelessness, crime, substance abuse, an ever-tightening housing market, and a very challenging problem with how to pay for the rebuild of the port of Alaska,” Popp said.

Popp noted the economic impact of the 7.0 earthquake that rocked Southcentral in November, damaging roads and buildings. The full extent of the damage is still coming to light.

Once a quarter, the AEDC checks in with residents about how they’re feeling about the economy, personal finances and the future. And, Popp said, the Anchorage Consumer Optimism Index shows residents are overall more optimistic this year than they were in 2018.

As with the state economy, there are still some big unknowns that could change the economic outlook. Economists are waiting to see what happens with oil prices and state budget cuts. And, if there are big changes in the national economy, that could impact Alaska.

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