ICYMI: Washington Post: Why Alaska has more at stake in the government shutdown than any other state
January 17, 2019
By Andrew Van Dam
Alaska is in the fourth year of a statewide recession. It has the nation’s highest unemployment rate and, since 2015, the fastest rate of job losses. And its weak economy is particularly vulnerable to a prolonged government shutdown — the federal impasse has sidelined more federal workers per capita there than in any other state. (D.C. is higher.)
About 5,700 of Alaska’s 15,100 federal employees are likely affected by the shutdown — about 1.7 percent of its entire workforce, according to an analysis of federal data by the Post’s Ted Mellnik, Laris Karklis and Kevin Schaul. That’s more than three times the national rate.
At least 382 of those workers applied for unemployment benefits in the three weeks ending Jan. 11, according to Patsy Westcott, employment and training services director at the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development. That’s up from 40 such claims in November. Westcott said she expects the claims to be “higher than normal” for the duration of the shutdown. It’s one of many small signs the shutdown is beginning to take a toll in the state, especially in its vital fishing industry. (The applications were previously reported by Liz Ruskin of Alaska Public Media.)