65,000 fewer Alaskans have work compared to same time last year


    Over the past six weeks, more than 70,000 Alaskans have filed new claims for unemployment insurance. That compares to just 5,345 over the same time period in 2019.

    This information comes from the State of Alaska’s latest issue of Trends, a monthly journal published by the Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development.

    Roughly 65,000 people who typically would have jobs were unemployed by the end of April, Trends reports.

    “For context, Alaska’s entire working-age population numbers around 500,000,” writes Dan Robinson, the head of research for the Dept. of Labor.

    Whether customers spend freely or cautiously, though, will have a lot to do with the medium- and long-term impacts of COVID-19.

    He notes that some of these jobs may return as COVID-19 mandates are relaxed, but the future is uncertain.

    “Many service-sector workers will gradually return to work as stores, bars, restaurants, hair salons, and massage therapy businesses reopen, albeit with new restrictions,” he notes. “Whether customers spend freely or cautiously, though, will have a lot to do with the medium- and long-term impacts of COVID-19.”

    Another concern for many Alaska communities, however, will be the many seasonal jobs that simply will not be available this year as tourism is expected to sharply decline.

    “Visitor numbers will be dramatically lower this summer even under the most optimistic scenarios,” Robinson states, “and some of the largest tourism employers have already announced they won’t open or operate in 2020.”

    He expects that construction will tick up during the summer months but not to normal levels. As far as fishing and seafood, Robinson said it is too early to tell.

    Trends also looks at long-term populations projections, noting that birth rates, “shockingly low” oil prices, layoffs and migration loss could shrink the state’s overall population for the near future.

    Click here to read the complete May issue of Trends.

    Click here to support the Alaska Watchman.

    Joel Davidson
    Joel Davidson
    Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 20 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.

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