A recent report about the economic impacts of states’ responses to the pandemic shows that there was a direct correlation between the number of jobs lost and how severe a state’s shutdown was, such as closing down businesses or stay-at-home orders. On the flip side, the authors of the report found that the severity of response did not seem to slow down or prevent hospitalizations or death rates from the coronavirus. For most states, a speedier recovery was correlated to less strict states. Alaska, of course, was and is an exception. While the state of Alaska had less strict shutdown requirements than many other states, its recovery has been slow. The report explains this is most likely due to Alaska’s economy, which relies heavily on oil and tourism, two industries that took a big hit during the pandemic.
Additionally, according to the report, Alaska ranked 42nd out of 50 for state governmental response severity. In other words, forty-one states had more restrictive statewide policies than Alaska during the pandemic. It’s important to note, however, that local restrictions were not taken into account for the ranking. Based on the report’s findings, it is safe to say that Alaska’s economy would be hurting even more if more stringent shutdown requirements had been in place at the state government level, as occurred in other states. Alaska Policy Forum assisted the authors, our network partners, Georgia Center For Opportunity, in collecting the Alaska-specific data.