In the wake of a national economic downturn, many states are feeling the pinch. But some, like Alaska, are riding out the storm with more ease than others.
Several economic indicators bode well for the state known as “the last frontier.”
For starters, Alaska’s housing markets have remained stable, and, therefore, relatively healthy. Unlike many high-growth states, Alaska had no housing bubble to burst.
“Foreclosure activity in Alaska represented less than 1 percent of the 895,521 properties with foreclosure filings reported nationwide for the second quarter of 2010,” according to a press release issued by RealtyTrac, which collects and aggregates foreclosure data for properties throughout the U.S.
In July 2010, one in 1,656 housing units received a foreclosure filing in Alaska – a minute figure compared to one in 82 housing units in Nevada and one in 171 housing units in Florida! (figures based on RealtyTrac data).
The employment picture is also brighter in Alaska than many other parts of the country. Alaska’s July 2010 unemployment rate of 7.7 percent is almost two points lower than the national rate of 9.5 percent. Total non-farm employment increased from 343,700 in July 2009 to 351,300 (preliminary) in 2010, according to the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
Of course, the news isn’t all rosy. The state is in the midst of efforts to boost its tourism industry, which has suffered at the hands of the recession. Declining visitor traffic and spending, particularly by cruise passengers, has had a negative impact on jobs and businesses throughout the state.
The Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development reported a 7.3 drop in visits to the state between summer 2008 and summer 2009 – the largest decline the state has experienced since the mid-1980s. “In 2010, Alaska is losing more than 140,000 (cruise) passengers and $150 million in direct and indirect spending with Alaska businesses.”
Looking on the bright side, State Department of Labor Commissioner Click Bishop says in the April 2010 issue of Alaska Economic Trends, “Planned, sustainable growth is good. Alaska’s future will continue to be tied to resource, energy and economic development, and that will continue to provide jobs for our growing population.”
Extra credit: Alaska earned the top grade among all 50 states in the Heartland Institute’s recent State Public Pension Report Card (see MuniNetGuide expert interview with Eli Leher of the Heartland Institute).