ANCHORAGE (KTUU) – Between 2016 and 2017, Alaska lost over 2,400 jobs in the construction industry, according to the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development. In the years since, some of those jobs have come back, but as with many industries, the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic slowed that growth down.
After small growth in 2018 and 2019, 2020 was expected to be a good year for many in the construction industry.
“We were looking really promising, looking good,” said Jonathan Hornick, Senior Project Manager for Cornerstone Contractors. “There was a lot of opportunities on the street for projects to be able to bid on.”
But once the pandemic hit, work slowed down in many ways. The construction industry was never mandated to stop by state orders, but the economic impacts of the virus, and its effects on travel and supply chains meant some projects were slowed or halted.
“In Alaska, the biggest impacts we’ve had have been to our remote projects in remote communities,” said Kendall Nielsen, Vice President of Alaska Operations for Dawson Construction.
Many local restrictions on travel in smaller Alaska communities, and larger state restrictions, meant some workers had to wait up to two weeks after arrival before going to a work site, and Nielsen said in some cases that simply wasn’t worth the wait.
“An elevator installer, for example, comes out for three days,” he said. “That individual is not going to come in and quarantine for 14 days to then do two