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New State GDP Numbers Released

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The latest numbers on GDP have come out for the state of Alaska.  KDLG’s Chase Cavanaugh has more.

Earlier this month, the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development released the July issue of Economic Trends.  One prominent story is a report on the state’s gross domestic product.   Gross Domestic Product, or GDP, measures the final market value of all goods and services produced in a defined area. 

Caroline Schultz is an economist with Alaska’s Department of Labor.  She says the state’s GDP was $60.7 billion last year, but dropped because of a volatile mining sector.

“Overall, Alaska’s GDP was valued at $59.4 billion in 2013, which was an inflation-adjusted decline from 2012, largely because of declines in the value of mining production, which includes the oil and gas industries in Alaska.”

Mining is the single largest portion of Alaska’s GDP, making up 29% of the amount.  The second largest categories are government, at 17%, and transportation, at 11%.  However, this only measures the value of the products and services these industries turn out.  In terms of employment, mining represents only 5% of the state’s workforce, with transportation having 6% and government 24%.  

Schultz says fishermen don’t fit in the category one would expect.  Since GDP only measures finished products and services, caught fish aren’t part of the GDP measurement.  Instead, their value is measured by what they sell for after processing.  This puts them in the manufacturing category, which only makes up 3% of Alaska’s GDP.

“So many of our coastal communities are so dominated by fishing, but really, if you compare the manufacturing sector, which, in Alaska, is almost entirely seafood processing, it’s still dwarfed by oil and gas, which just goes to show how even though that’s way up on the slope or a little bit in Cook Inlet, it’s still a huge part of Alaska’s economy.”

Schultz says future changes to Alaska’s Gross Domestic Product are likely to come from the change in mining commodity prices, such as oil, gold and zinc.  By contrast, most other industries should remain stable, and employment numbers will have no correlation with future GDP. 

The full report can be found in the July issue of Alaska Economic Trends.  That publication is available at the website of the Alaska Department of Labor.