Alaska adds jobs in 2013, expects growth in 2014

The Parnell administration remains committed to growing opportunity for Alaskans. As we look ahead to 2014, our economists forecast Alaska adding 1,500 jobs — 2,400 new private sector jobs, diminished some by a decline of 900 government jobs.

Alaska added more than 1,500 jobs through the first half of 2013, and Alaska is one of just a handful of states that has recovered all of the jobs lost during the recent recession. Alaska’s unemployment rate has been below the national rate for a record 61 consecutive months as of November.

A recent Washington Post article claims that Alaska is the only state that lost jobs in 2013 — a claim that warrants a clarification with facts. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers used in the article are suspect because they are preliminary and have been subject to very large revisions in recent years.

For example, numbers reported from that same data set in July of last year showed a loss of 3,400 jobs, but revised final numbers showed a gain of 4,300 jobs. Similarly, November 2012 numbers showed growth of just 300 jobs, but those numbers were later revised to show growth of 3,100 jobs.

State economists, who work closely with the BLS to produce jobs numbers and unemployment rates for Alaska, estimate that when the revisions are complete, Alaska’s job numbers will be in the plus column — and 2013 will be the state’s fourth straight year of job growth since the 2009 economic downturn.

Additionally, thanks to legislation championed by Governor Sean Parnell, Alaskans will see a 22 percent reduction in unemployment insurance tax rates in 2014. Unlike Alaska, 36 states have borrowed from the federal government to keep their unemployment trust funds solvent, and about a dozen continue to do so.

Also, because of Alaska’s low unemployment rate, our state is no longer classified as a single zone of underemployment for public construction jobs. The critical take-away on this reclassification is that it was based on the fact that Alaska has a healthy economy, and the Parnell administration continues to strongly support and encourage Alaska hire throughout the state.

Alaska’s future is especially bright with the passage of the 2013 More Alaska Production Act. Already, we’re seeing new opportunities as billions of dollars in new investment on the North Slope create new jobs and increase economic activity. We expect more good news to follow, and continued growth in Alaska’s oil and gas industry.

For much more detailed information on our 2014 jobs outlook, look for the January 2014 issue of Alaska Economic Trends online at Labor.Alaska.Gov.

Dianne Blumer is commissioner of the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

More

Sat, 01/21/2017 - 23:42

What others say: Obama took right tack on Cuba

There’s no solution to the half-century old Cuba problem that will satisfy everyone, but we strongly believe President Obama made the right decision to end the troubled “wet foot, dry foot” policy.

Read more

What others say: Obama’s legacy a mixed one

President Barack Obama leaves office Friday after eight years as the most consequential Democrat to occupy the White House since Lyndon Johnson. And unlike that Texan, whose presidency was born in tragedy and ended in failure, Obama will not have the ghost of the Vietnam War haunting his days and eating his conscience as LBJ did all the remaining days of his life.

Read more

Op-ed: Trump won the news conference

Donald Trump should do press conferences more often. Not for the country’s sake, certainly not for the media’s sake, but for his. He really shouldn’t have waited 167-plus days to hold one, because the man gives great sound bite. Although I’ve participated in probably thousands of these staged encounters as a reporter, they’re not my favorite way of getting news — you almost never get any. The guy at the podium controls the proceeding. He can get his message out with little challenge from the assembled journalists who are limited to a question and a follow-up, maybe. Politicians can bob and weave through that without any of us landing a blow. And that’s our job: to penetrate the canned responses to their version of the controversy du jour and get at whatever truth they are hiding. Besides, Trump — who uses contempt for the media as a weapon, his preferred way to discredit reporting that displeases him —has a wonderful forum to do that. At the very least he should hold these confrontations as a supplement to his Twitter tirades. And frequently. It’s his opportunity to hold the media hostage as they cover live his rain of abuse on them.

Read more

Good luck in Juneau

The 30th Alaska Legislature gavels in on Tuesday, and we’d like to take a moment to wish our Kenai Peninsula legislators good luck over the coming months in Juneau.

Read more