US, oil generate two-thirds of Alaska jobs

If federal funds and oil dollars suddenly evaporated from Alaska, two-thirds of the state's jobs would disappear too, according to a new analysis from the University of Alaska Anchorage.

The cash flow from the rest of the state's economic drivers -- including tourism, seafood and air cargo -- support only about a third of the state's jobs, according to the analysis.

Support is the key word.

The 139-page analysis, by UAA economist Scott Goldsmith, doesn't merely count the number of jobs that exist in each industry. It calculates how many of the state's 357,000 jobs rely on the cash flow created by a specific sector -- seafood processing and military jobs, for example. This analysis is useful because it shows the extent to which the well-being on one person's job depends on the health of other industries and federal dollars, Goldsmith said.

Take the Alaska Native Medical Center, for example. It provides medical care to Alaska Natives and employs roughly 1,900 people. The hospital is a local employer, but "mostly federal dollars support it," Goldsmith said.

An example of how a job in one industry relies on the activity of another can be shown this way: A state worker, who is paid out of taxes on oil production, purchases a newly built house, eats at his neighborhood restaurant, buys groceries from the supermarket and shops at the mall. Multiply this by thousands of state workers and lots of construction, restaurant, supermarket and mall jobs depend on oil production.

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