The current Alaska Department of Labor forecast predicts only two local job sectors will grow this year: health care and government. Jobs in state and federal government agencies are expected to increase; jobs in oil and gas are projected to decrease.

An aging and ailing population that requires more medical attention and an expanding government bureaucracy are not encouraging indicators of economic strength. With less oil in the pipeline, elected officials need to explain how we’ll finance even a slight expansion of Alaska’s public sector “economy.” Most Alaskans oppose statewide income and sales taxes and don’t take kindly to tapping the Permanent Fund to feed government. Are there lessons to be learned from the experiences of other states?

The Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council measures the cost of government for entrepreneurs. Their “Small Business Survival Index” ranks states from the “Friendliest to the Least Friendly Policy Environments for Entrepreneurship.” According to the Index, the state with the best environment for business is South Dakota and the worst is New Jersey (Actually, the worst is Washington DC, but it’s not technically a state). The states ranked lowest are New York (48), California (49) and New Jersey (50)…

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