Uncertainty clouds future of state’s economy, modest job growth expected

That’s according to the January edition of “Alaska Economic Trends”

Alaska is experiencing some economic recovery since the COVID-19 pandemic began, but uncertainty still hangs over the future of the state’s economy. That’s according to the January edition of “Alaska Economic Trends,” which is published by the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

In all, the department reported that Alaska recovered more than 7,000 jobs in 2021 after losing more than 27,000 in 2020, but is expected to recover an additional 9,800 jobs in 2022. Still, the only industries expected to “fully recover” to their pre-COVID levels in 2022 are construction, health care and federal employment.

Among the causes of the economic recovery experienced in 2021 were the return of some cruise ships and tourists, the return of students to in-person learning and the influx of federal funding. The temporary waiving of the Passenger Vessel Services Act by Congress allowed more than 100,000 cruise ship passengers to visit Alaska in 2021 while independent tourism to the state was “strong.”

Looking ahead, however, the report acknowledged unknowns that could hinder Alaska’s long-term growth, including steady population loss, the state’s fiscal woes and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which already came on the heels of a statewide recession.

The report comes as the Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District prepares to hold its annual Industry Outlook Forum. This year’s forum will be held at the Kenai Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center on Thursday, Jan. 6 from 8:15 a.m. to 3:40 p.m. Those interested in attending are advised to RSVP at kpedd.org.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.