ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The Anchorage Economic Development Corp. has predicted the city is likely to lose more than 11,000 jobs this year, largely because of the financial impact of the coronavirus.
Corporation CEO Bill Popp said the losses would take the city back to employment levels last seen before 2000, The Alaska Journal of Commerce reported Wednesday.
The severity of the sudden recession resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak in March could result in “destruction of aspects of our economy,” Popp said in an Aug. 5 presentation of the corporation’s three-year economic outlook for the city.
Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, Anchorage was at the end of a four-year recession during which more than 6,000 jobs were lost.
Popp urged lawmakers to find ways to help keep businesses afloat and prevent large-scale home foreclosures or evictions.
The corporation’s analysis predicted the Anchorage leisure and hospitality industry will experience the biggest labor hit with the loss of more than 5,000 jobs, or 30% of the sector.
Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport passenger traffic is expected to drop by 60% this year, to about 2.3 million passengers, followed by steady growth in the following years to 5 million passengers by 2023.
Air cargo volume at the airport, which is one of the world’s busiest cargo hubs, is expected to grow slightly this year and remain in the annual range of 3 million tons (2.7 million metric tons).
The city’s retail sector is expected to contract by about 1,000 jobs, or 7%, the organization forecast.
The development corporation predicted the oil and gas industry will lose about 300 jobs this year before restoring those positions in 2021.
Anchorage had an average unemployment rate of 12% in June, down slightly from May. Statewide unemployment averaged 12.4% in June.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.
The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.