Alaska Trends


he impacts of COVID-19 on Alaska’s economy are myriad, and the combined action plans of federal and state governments in responding to the pandemic have been equally multifaceted. Loan forgiveness programs, relief activity, and early permanent fund dividend distribution are a few of the tactics that government officials employed to keep Alaska’s economy running.

Staying abreast of what’s happening during the pandemic—case numbers, statewide health mandates, unemployment statistics—is a daunting task. This month in Alaska Trends we provide an overview of a few key statistics and COVID-19 response efforts. While much of the information is unsettling, there are some positive spots to consider. For example, compared to the beginning of the pandemic, current unemployment numbers have almost been cut in half. And what we can’t see in this data is the incredibly hard work going on behind the scenes to both secure economic opportunities and safeguard the health of every Alaskan.

COVID-19 In Alaska
The timeline below looks at the health of the economy, Alaska’s daily COVID-19 case count, and the state’s responses in the first six months of the pandemic.
COVID-19 in Alaska Graph Key text
COVID-19 in Alaska graph left
COVID-19 in Alaska unemployment graph left
COVID-19 in Alaska graph right
COVID-19 in Alaska unemployment graph right
1Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development
The first month of the pandemic prompted unemployment claims that broke records, and the long-term effects on the economy will be significant; however, the October 2020 issue of Alaska Economic Trends projects 5.5 percent employment growth for Alaska over the next nine years.
2018-2020 Employment Projections for Alaska
Server illustration
Growth despite change
Restaurants will recover in the long run, growing 12.7% by 2028. Dining preferences will change to reflect increased demand in take-out and delivery options. Population growth will also buoy restaurants in the coming years.
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More or less on track
General stores, including warehouse clubs and supercenters, remain strong with an estimated growth of 7.7% by 2028. Miscellaneous retailers, like pet stores and thrift stores, have the hightest projected growth rate of 15.8% by 2028.
Healthcare illustration
Slower but strong
Healthcare is still anticipated to experience strong growth with a predicted growth rate of 10.3%. This continues to be twice the projected national rate due to Alaska’s aging population and continued expansion into rural hubs.