- Associated Press - Friday, December 2, 2016

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - A state labor department economist says Alaska is in a recession, facing job losses across most sectors of the economy amid chronically low oil prices.

Caroline Schultz says the recession likely began at the end of 2015.

Job numbers released by the department Friday show average monthly employment in the first half of 2016 was down 5,530 jobs, or about 1.6 percent, compared to the same period in 2015.

The oil and gas industry was especially hard hit during that period. The department says the sector that includes health care and social services was the only one to add a significant number of jobs.

The last big recession Alaska experienced was in the 1980s. Schultz said the state experienced minor job losses in 2009, during a recession that hit other parts of the country hard.

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