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Economists: Recession to hit Alaska this year

Economists say the visitor industry will experience the impact of the economic meltdown this summer and predict the sector will lose 300 jobs statewide. Cruise passengers that do come are likely to spend less.

The national recession will catch up with Alaska in 2009, with job losses in most major economic sectors except government, economists told Juneau’s business community Thursday.

“Alaska is going to join the rest of the nation in recession in 2009, that’s the bottom line,” said Pat Burden, president of the Anchorage consulting firm Northern Economics.

Along with the shrinking economy, 3,400 jobs, or about six-tenths of a percent statewide, will be lost, Burden said, bucking a 20-plus year trend of economic growth in Alaska.

Burden said the cruise industry appears to be responding as it did after 9/11 by slashing prices to keep its ships full and workers working, but said the passengers that do come are likely to spend less. The hospitality and leisure sector as a whole is forecast to lose 300 jobs statewide.

Fortunately for the capital city, government as an industry will grow, Burden said. He and Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell described government spending as a “stabilizing force” in the economy. Part of that stability will come from the state’s $6 billion reserve, likely to be tapped for the upcoming budget year, and spending on major construction projects in the pipeline, Parnell said.

Burden said additional jobs are anticipated to be created by the federal government and military.

Unfortunately, Burden said new research suggests this economic crisis may last much longer than recessions of the recent past. The turmoil on Wall Street and less available credit by banks are contributing factors.

“Prepare for a fairly lengthy recession,” he said.

Source: Juneau Empire

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