- Associated Press - Monday, January 9, 2017

KETCHIKAN, Alaska (AP) - State analysts predict Alaska will lose thousands of jobs this year as it continues to deal with the effects of low oil prices.

The Alaska Department of Labor estimates the state will lose about 7,500 jobs in 2017, a little more than 2 percent of its total workforce, The Ketchikan Daily News reported (https://bit.ly/2jsv7GO).

Economist Caroline Shultz said in the state’s annual job forecast report that there will be widespread reductions in service industries that rely on consumer spending. Alaskans will hold on to more of their dollars this year because of lower wages and less confidence in the state economy, she said.

Southeast Alaska is expected to lose 1.7 percent of its jobs this year, compared to the state’s 2.3 percent, according to Juneau-based economist Conor Bell.

Analysts predict most of the 600 job losses in southeast Alaska will be in state government and construction, but those in the region’s health care and tourism industries are expecting to see growth.

An expansion of the Ketchikan Medical Center is almost complete, and the facility has recently hired new orthopedic and general surgeons.

“We’re always hiring, and we’ve experienced some growth over the last few years,” said Shanna Criscola, human resources partner with PeaceHealth, which is working with the city of Ketchikan on the hospital expansion.

The southeast region of the state is also expected to see another 1 million cruise passengers this summer, which is expected to boost the local economy. Russell Thomas, co-owner of Alaska Sportfishing Expeditions, said the company’s three resort properties are already seeing 2017 bookings surpass what they were last year.

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Information from: Ketchikan (Alaska) Daily News, https://www.ketchikandailynews.com

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