Alaska Economists Predict Stability Despite Job Declines

Staff | September 28, 2010

Anchorage— For the first time in 20 years, Alaska state economist Neal Fried is predicting a job loss of 200 positions in Anchorage, somewhat mirroring the nation's employment woes.

Fried said Alaska is in step with the rest of the country as far as employment figures are concerned.

"The reason for this is that when unemployment rises in the rest of the country, fewer people leave Alaska, and those in the other states move north looking for employment opportunity, which forces the rate upward," he explained.

Anchorage building owners, managers and real estate brokers met in Anchorage in January to hear predictions about how the 2009 Alaska economy will affect lease and rentals citywide.

Others offering forecasts at the luncheon were Robert Martin of Ravenwood Real Estate, David Irwin of Irwin Development Group, Per Bjorn-Roli of Reliant LLC, and Brian Meissner of ECI/Hyer Inc.

All in all, the group concluded that Alaska — and specifically the Anchorage economy — will suffer some minor downturns, but for the most will part remain stable in 2009 as far as lease and rental vacancies are concerned.

"Building vacancies should remain at some of the lowest levels in the U.S.," said Martin. "In the leasing sector, vacancy rates should fall at about 2.9 percent. This compares to 10 percent nationwide."

Retail sales will increase and add jobs to the market, as Target and Best Buy open new stores in Anchorage this year. Still, due to a slowdown in construction of new stores the numbers will remain flat, said Irwin, president of Irwin Development Group.

"While the rest of the nation is experiencing nearly a 15-percent vacancy rate, Anchorage will remain at 4 percent," he added.