The Anchorage Economic Development Corporation (AEDC) hosted its annual Economic Forecast presentation on Wednesday. As they did with their 3-Year Outlook presentation this summer, the event was virtual with attendees able to listen via Zoom. The video will be available in coming weeks for those who weren’t able to listen live.
The event’s guest speakers were Acting Mayor Quinn-Davidson, Governor Dunleavy, and Senator Murkowski. Each highlighted the struggles felt throughout Anchorage, Alaska and the country in the past year. They all noted that we are not out of the woods yet, but there are reasons to remain positive with hope that we will come through the pandemic and financial crisis together as a community.
AEDC’s President & CEO Bill Popp presented the economic forecast for 2021, while also looking back at 2020 to show the significance of the impact that COVID-19 has had on the Anchorage economy. Part of the forecast included the Annual Business Confidence Index report and the Anchorage Consumer Optimism Index. Both reports showed that confidence has been shaken on all levels and all indicators dropped from the previous reporting period.
The start of 2020 brought a hope for the end of the recession seen in Anchorage and throughout Alaska, but instead brought a global pandemic that halted business and day-to-day life for many. Instead of gaining jobs, as predicted in 2019, Anchorage lost more than 18,000 jobs beginning in March 2020. The losses were felt across industries, but most heavily in Leisure & Hospitality and Retail Trade.
The Economic Forecast report gives hope for some gains in 2021, but it will take years to get back what was lost in the last 10 months of 2020. The numbers continued to be sobering as we look towards 2021, but Popp reminded listeners that things are improving with the distribution of vaccines. 2020 is a year that many are glad to have in the rearview mirror and are hoping that 2021 will help Anchorage get back on track to rebuild the local economy and bring jobs back to the hardest hit industries during the COVID-19 pandemic.