Alaska labour statistics do not yet show expected job cuts | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Alaska labour statistics do not yet show expected job cuts

March 19, 2020 - 3:45 AM

JUNEAU, Alaska - The latest labour statistics for Alaska are promising, but they do not include the cuts in jobs that have occurred since the coronavirus outbreak.

Labour figures for January released by the state last week showed a 0.6% increase in the number of jobs, but negative impacts due to the spread of COVID-19 are expected to appear in data for February and March, KTOO-FM reported Wednesday.

The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development released a statement Tuesday encouraging those out of work to apply for unemployment insurance benefits. The department anticipates a substantial increase in filings and long wait times and asked applicants to file online and to limit calls for questions.

For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. But for the elderly and people with existing conditions, it can cause more severe illness. The vast majority of those who are infected recover.

Industry and government travel restrictions preventing large cruise ships from docking in Alaska are expected to have an enormous impact in Juneau, where one out of every 7 or 8 jobs is in travel and hospitality.

The 2020 cruise ship season was poised to set new records. At Juneau Tours and Whale Watch, General Manager Serene Hutchinson said pre-sales were up 30% to 40%.

“And so we were getting ready for a huge season. We were sweating, we were nervous,” Hutchinson said.

The company planned to have a summer staff of 85 to 90 people. Instead, Hutchinson said she recently laid off half her year-round staff, reducing the company's roster to five employees.

“Now, the people I just laid off are really nervous because they don’t know when they’re gonna start back," Hutchinson said.

She told her seasonal workers to "stand by” but expects to lose them to other work. If the cruise ship season eventually starts, Hutchinson said she will have to hire workers all over again.

News from © The Associated Press, 2020
The Associated Press

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