Alaska's recession projected to end in 2019

ANCHORAGE (KTUU) — Alaska's economy is forecast to climb out of the three year long recession in 2019 according to economists at the Building Owners & Managers Association commercial real estate forecast luncheon Friday.

Dept. of Labor economist Neal Fried says getting out of a three year long recession isn't something that happens overnight.

"A lot of people think that a recession would end in a big bang, or some big event would define it, and usually no, that's not what happens," Fried said. "It kind of ends with a whimper. What happens is the negatives get smaller, and the positives get bigger. When the positives get big enough, they overwhelm the negatives and we start moving into positive territory."

Fried says one indication of the recession winding down is that industries like oil and gas development, which were losing thousands of jobs in 2016 and 2017, are now relatively stable. Construction is another industry which has lost many jobs in the past years, but actually added jobs in 2018. The retail industry, however, took one of the biggest hits last year, with stores like Sears and Sam's Club shutting their doors, and e-commerce sites filling the void.

"We don't think we'll lose as many this year, although we think it's still going to be negative," Fried said. "E-commerce is just bearing down on that industry, and that's not going to change in 2019. We do think retail will still lose some ground in 2019, but maybe not as much as last year."

There are other signs of positive economic growth. Alaska is beginning to see more outside economic investment.

BSI Commercial Real Estate broker Brandon Spoerhase says investment from outside could provide a significant source of economic growth for Alaska.

"As our new governor said, Alaska is open for business, and we're starting to see investments from areas that we haven't seen in the last five to six years," Spoerhase said. "ConocoPhillips for example mentioned that there's potential to invest billions into the Alaska economy over the next several years, and I think that that message has been heard around the world."

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