Economy's woes nipping at Alaska

We've seen a blizzard of horrifying headlines from the Lower 48 in recent months -- mass layoffs, stock market crashes, bank failures, record home foreclosures, the onset of recession and even talk of a depression.

So how is Alaska's economy doing?

How are you doing?

Alaskans, it seems, are faring fine compared to people elsewhere.

"We're in a better position than a lot of our sister states," said Dan Robinson, an economist with the Alaska Department of Labor.

But look out. We're beginning to see some worrying signs that the recession gripping the rest of the country eventually could bite us here. Among the indicators: rising unemployment, mounting home foreclosures and high credit-card debt.

Beyond this, brows are beginning to furrow over the precipitous decline in oil prices. Oil revenue pays for most of the cost of state government and is a vital fuel for the entire Alaska economy.

On Friday, Alaska crude oil closed at $35.61, a far cry from the peak of $144 in early July.

And here's something else: Investment troubles on faraway Wall Street have done a number on the state's main savings account, the Alaska Permanent Fund, which now has a market value of less than $28 billion, having lost about $9 billion over the past four months.

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