2018 job growth: -0.7%
2017 job growth: -1.3%
New jobs in 2018: -2,200
New jobs in 2017: -4,400
Unemployment rate by year-end 2018: 7.1%
Unemployment rate at year-end 2017: 7.2%
A rebound in prices for crude oil is benefiting Alaska, but follows years of battering that drove it into recession and left its economy with the highest unemployment rate of any state. More job cuts are likely this year, but the rate of losses is declining, and there are glimmers of hope that the economic downturn may be near bottoming out. The cost has been severe: some 11,700 high-paying oil industry jobs were lost between 2015, when oil prices were slumping, and the end of this year. State officials are hopeful a huge infrastructure project to develop a liquefied natural gas (LNG) capability can be completed by 2024 or 2025. Alaska has huge reserves of the clean-burning fuel, and global demand for it is strong. Helping to cushion the blow from the loss of oil-industry momentum in recent years has been growth in Alaska's manufacturing, health care, and tourism sectors. Alaska also has a strong and growing military presence due to its strategic location. That is boosting construction, including $169 million budgeted in 2018 at Eielson Air Force Base for two squadrons of F-35s arriving in 2020.