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It is a surprising accomplishment, but even as oil prices remain in the $50-plus per barrel range the North Slope producers have been able to maintain and even slightly increase production. The North Slope oil fields produced an average of 527,900 barrels per day over Fiscal Year 2017, the budget year ending last June 30, an increase over the average of 516,400 barrels per day producing over the prior year, FY 2016.

Alaska’s recession appears to be leveling out, the latest state employment data indicates. Newly released data on Alaskans’ wage income for the first quarter of 2017 point to a general stability of the economy and a possible easing of the recession. The data, from the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, actually shows small increases in total wages in most sectors of Alaska’s economy. Wages increased by $25 million overall, or 0.6 percent, compared to the same period in 2016.

The wage growth is noteworthy because total wages had declined for the previous four quarters. Wages are not adjusted for inflation in the data. Private sector wages grew by 0.4 percent overall. Read the rest of this entry »

State employment information points to a levelling of job losses. State Department of Labor economists warn that the data is still preliminary, however. Information for August, 2017, indicates that jobs in the state are down 4,800, or 1.4 percent, compared with August 2016. This is an improvement from the January-through-June information showing employment that was down 5,000 to 6,000 compared with the same period of 2016.

Job losses in high-wage industries like oil and gas, and construction, were also lower in August compared with earlier months. However, professional and business services, a category that includes engineering, was still substantially below August 2016. This is a key indicator of future economic activity because professionals like engineers, or environmental specialists, work on projects that are in the planning stages. Read the rest of this entry »

State budget deficits continue to drain reserves, and state officials now warn that some balance must be maintained for cash management purposes and emergencies. The projected deficit for Fiscal Year 2018, the current budget year that ends next June 30, is estimated at $2.6 billion. When that is paid the remaining funds in the Constitutional Budget Reserve, the state’s main cash account, are estimated at $2.1 billion. This is insufficient to pay a deficit for FY 2019 of a size similar to that of FY 2018, and to fully fund the budget other funds would be needed, such as from a new tax or money taken from the Permanent Fund’s earnings reserve. State budget officials also advise that a healthy balance, in the range of $2 billion, should be left in the CBR account to handle routine cash management for the state, and for emergencies.

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