Peninsula employment down 2.4%

Peninsula employment down 2.4%

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to clarify that Brandii Holmdahl also has a background in the sportfishing industry.

The Kenai Peninsula has seen a steeper drop in jobs than the state in general between the first two quarters of 2015 and 2016.

In the period from January through June 2016, the peninsula had 965 fewer jobs than in the same time period of 2015, about a 2.4 percent. The only industries on the peninsula that has more jobs in 2016 than 2015 are the information industry — which gained exactly one job — the financial industry, leisure and hospitality, unclassified establishments and local government, according to numbers provided to the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly by the Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District.

Most of the job losses came out of private industry, which has 1,027 fewer jobs in the first six months of 2016 than in 2015. Oil and gas saw the sharpest cuts — more than half of the 670 jobs directly in oil and gas extraction in 2015 were lost by the first two quarters of 2016.

The downturn in oil and gas prices worldwide has driven companies to downsize operations or withdraw. Apache Corporation withdrew from Alaska in early 2016, and ConocoPhillips is in the early stages of marketing its Nikiski LNG facility for sale. The downturn in oil and gas has impacts outside just the mining industry as well, putting pressure on oilfield support businesses. For example, Arctic Slope Regional Corporation plans to close its Nikiski fabrication facility by the end of the year in response to low oil prices, taking approximately 40 jobs out of the sector on the peninsula.

Tim Dillon, the executive director of KPEDD, presented the numbers to the borough assembly at its Tuesday meeting in response to discussions about a state recession. He warned that some of the numbers may look low because it does not include the boom in employment during the summer months on the peninsula.

“It does not take into consideration fishing and tourism,” he said. “You wouldn’t see that bump until you saw the third and fourth quarters.”

The peninsula’s numbers are significantly worse than the statewide numbers. In the first six months of 2016, the state had 1.6 percent fewer jobs, the greatest drop since the late 1980s recession, according to a Dec. 2 report from the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Employment losses accelerated as well, from a 1.2 percent loss in January to a 2.5 percent decline in June, according to the report. Private sector employment losses on the Kenai Peninsula were a little less than double the statewide average of 1.9 percent, coming in at a 3.4 percent loss, according to the numbers provided by KPEDD.

Across the state, local government employment was up about .4 percent, mostly due to school district increases, according to the Department of Labor’s report. However, the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District has recently been trimming employment and has about 11 fewer full-time equivalent positions this year as compared to last year, according to an update from Superintendent Sean Dusek to the borough assembly on Tuesday.

The increase in the local government numbers for the Kenai Peninsula can be attributed to Central Peninsula Hospital and South Peninsula Hospital, both of which are borough-owned, Dillon said in an interview. Though the hospitals are both operated by nonprofit boards, their employment numbers were included in the local government numbers because they are still public hospitals.

The Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District provides support for businesses on the peninsula through research, advice and can provide small loans. Dillon said employers on the peninsula are working on processing the economic situation the state is faced with.

“At this stage, I think people are just trying to digest things,” he said. “They been hearing this is where we’re headed, so what do we do?”

The Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District is preparing to host its annual Industry Outlook Forum next month on Jan. 11, in which employers, government officials and entrepreneurs will speak on the economic outlook for the coming year. One of the major changes is that the typically two-day event will be condensed into a single day this year. Dillon said the organization chose to shorten the event to one day to make sure people could find time to come.

“One of the big things that I heard last year was, ‘I can give you one day but I can’t give you two days,’” he said. “We’re in different economic times right now, and if you want those key people to not only go ahead and make the presentations but also be in the audience, you have to make those adjustments.”

Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Mike Navarre will provide an update on the borough, and a panel of members from the Alaska Department of Labor, Kenai Peninsula College, the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, the Kenai Peninsula Construction Academy and Alaska’s Institute of Technology in Seward will provide a workforce outlook. Alaska Travel Industry Association President and CEO Sarah Leonard and Shanon Davis of the Kenai Peninsula Tourism Marketing Council will provide a tourism industry update, Kenai Peninsula Borough Healthcare Task Force chairman Rick Ross will provide a health care industry peninsula-wide update and Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly member Brandii Holmdahl, who also works for seafood processor Icicle Seafoods and has family who works in the sportfishing industry, will provide a fishing industry update. Other speakers include the Kenaitze Indian Tribe’s Wellness Director Deborah Nyquist, Alaska Miners Association Executive Director Deantha Crockett, Alaska oil and Gas Association President and COO Kara Moriarty, and former Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell as well as three local Kenai Peninsula entrepreneurs throughout the day.

Dillon said he felt confident in the diversity of the speaker lineup this year.

“This way, we can get a better feel for what’s going on statewide,” he said.

Those wishing to attend can register on kpedd.org.

 

Elizabeth Earl can be reached at elizabeth.earl@peninsulaclarion.com.

Peninsula employment down 2.4%

More in News

Stickers are available for voters at the Kenai No. 1 precinct for Election Day on Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna to hold ‘I Voted’ sticker design contest

City council members approved the program during their Wednesday night meeting

Bill seeking to bump use of Alaska Performance Scholarship clears the House with unanimous support

The money is awarded to high-performing high school graduates to help pay for postsecondary education at participating institutions in Alaska

Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities Commissioner Ryan Anderson answers questions from state senators during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024 in Juneau, Alaska. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire)
State officials working to meet Friday deadline for revised transportation plan

The federal government rejected the plan on Feb. 9, citing numerous deficiencies

Travis Every, top left, speaks in support of fishing opportunity for the east side setnet fishery before the State Board of Fisheries at the Egan Convention Center in Anchorage, Alaska, on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Local fishers talk conservation, opportunity before Board of Fisheries in Anchorage

Local fishers from the Kenai Peninsula traveled to Anchorage this weekend to… Continue reading

Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, R-Nikiski, presents information on a bill establishing a voluntary buyback program for Cook Inlet’s east side setnet fishery on Monday, Feb. 19, 2024, in Juneau, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Bjorkman bill would pay bonuses to nationally certified teachers

The Alaska Department of Education and Early Development estimates that the bonus program would apply to about 215 of Alaska’s estimated 7,315 teachers — about 3%

Alaska senators meet with members of the media to discuss education legislation after a press conference by Gov. Mike Dunleavy on the topic on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024, in Juneau, Alaska. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire)
Dunleavy threatens veto of education bill if more of his priorities aren’t added

It is not certain there would be the 40 votes necessary to override a veto by the governor

A map displays a wide-ranging special weather statement, published Tuesday by the National Weather Service, covering Southcentral Alaska. (Map courtesy of National Weather Service)
Strong winds, low wind chills forecast through Friday

Wind chills over night may reach as low as -20 to -40 degrees in much of Southcentral

Snow falls atop the Central Peninsula Diabetes Center in Soldotna, Alaska, on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024. The office opened in October, but a grand opening was held this week. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Central Peninsula Hospital adds Diabetes Center

The center has been seeing patients since October and held a grand opening Monday

Gary Hollier pulls a sockeye salmon from a set gillnet at a test site for selective harvest setnet gear in Kenai, Alaska, on Tuesday, July 25, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Findings from pilot setnet fishery study inconclusive

The study sought to see whether shorter nets could selectively catch sockeye salmon while allowing king salmon to pass below

Most Read