When Secretary of State William Seward signed the agreement to purchase Alaska from Russia in 1867, many people thought it was a mistake and a waste of money. Many considered Alaska as a useless land. Not until when large deposits of gold were discovered in Klondike territory and Homestead Act of 1862 was extended to the Territory of Alaska in 1898 that people started migrating in Alaska for fishing, mining, and farming industries. In 1959, Alaska became the 49th U.S. state and the construction of military bases contributed to the population growth of some Alaskan cities.
The 1960s was considered the Decade of Development by the United Nations, and Alaska, convened as a new sovereign state, had experienced one of the most spectacular developments. As a result of the 1968 discovery of oil in Prudhoe Bay, more local businesses began opening. Tens of thousands of people were drawn to the state and the rapid growth in service jobs continues in the 1970s that increased revenue for the state. Growth was fastest from 1973-1977, during the pipeline construction boom, and then again from 1980-1985, during the boom created by rapid state spending of oil revenues.
In the early 1980s, at the peak of its oil production, the state government started construction of new public facilities, increased aid to local governments, and provide monetary assistance to all Alaskans. This was considered as the largest economic boom to date in Alaska. However, when the world oil crashed in 1986, the growth created by massive state spending couldn’t be sustained and Alaska had begun to move into recession. In the 1990s, although slower than in previous decades, Alaska’s overall jobs and income have continued to grow.