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Report: Juneau's local workforce shrinking, non-local workforce growing

McDowell Group will develop new economic plan for City and borough

Posted: March 14, 2014 - 12:08am
Jim Calvin, of the McDowell Group, speaks on the CBJ Economic Development Plan at the Juneau Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the Hangar Ballroom on Thursday.  Michael Penn | Juneau Empire
Michael Penn | Juneau Empire
Jim Calvin, of the McDowell Group, speaks on the CBJ Economic Development Plan at the Juneau Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the Hangar Ballroom on Thursday.

Juneau’s workforce has seen a lot of change over the past 10 years, and the City and Borough of Juneau has put a group in charge of figuring out what’s in store for the next 10.

Jim Calvin of McDowell Group, a local consulting firm, gave a presentation at the weekly Juneau Chamber of Commerce luncheon on the company’s preliminary findings as it examines Juneau’s economic situation. The company has been tasked with developing an economic plan for the city.

Calvin outlined Juneau economic trends over the past 10 years. These numbers, along with stakeholder interviews and surveys, will aid the development of a new plan that will guide the next 10.

“We have to get the community thinking about economic development,” he said. “Where do we want to be in the next 10 years?”

Since 2003, Calvin said in his presentation, Juneau has gained 1,260 private-sector jobs while the number of government jobs is down by 397. This means a net job growth of 863.

Almost every private industry experienced growth, except for the construction industry, which lost more than 300 positions. However, because of project flux, “construction can bounce up and down,” Calvin said.

The biggest increase was seen in the mining industry, which had a 400-job growth.

Health care has been the fastest growing industry in Alaska and in Juneau over the past 10 years, Calvin said.

However, looking at the bigger picture, there are two “fundamental trends” when it comes to Juneau’s economy: a decrease in permanent residents and an increase in non-local labor.

Between 2003 and 2012, the earnings of local workers remained flat. Those of non-local workers increased by $70 million.

Calvin said money leaving the local economy is something his firm will have to look at while developing the Juneau Economic Plan.

In terms of the makeup of Juneau’s economy, “it’s all about small business,” which provides a “robust, dynamic” workforce. Most of Juneau’s businesses employ few people, Calvin’s report showed.

However, he said, there’s “a little concern” in that, over the past 10 years, small-business owners’ income has dropped.

“There’s some weakness in our small business sector,” he said, something that’s “constraining growth.”

Calvin said the firm intends to study this, and other economic situations in Juneau, through the end of the month. It will conduct a random phone survey starting in April and will continue to do stakeholder and group interviews through November. The plan will be developed based on economic findings and community input and will be submitted to the CBJ Assembly in December, Calvin said.

Juneau Economic Development Council Executive Director Brian Holst said the JEDC board is “glad there’s going to be a plan.”

“We see the need for an economic development plan,” he said after the luncheon.

A town meeting for the plan will take place 7-9 p.m. April 3 at Centennial Hall. More information can be found online at

• Contact reporter Katie Moritz at 523-2294 or at Follow her on Twitter @katecmoritz.

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Judy Hodel
Judy Hodel 03/14/14 - 01:06 pm
MIners Money Leaving

While the mines put cash in the CBJ coffers via property taxes not that many of the workers live in Juneau. To see for yourself get on a flight from Seattle to Juneau on a Monday or Friday or a Juneau to Seattle flight on Monday or Friday and the planes are packed with mine workers coming and going. Most of the ones that live in Alaska live in the Mat Su Valley.

Scott Spickler
Scott Spickler 03/14/14 - 01:30 pm
Judy Judy Judy

The assumptions and assertions you post on a daily basis are pretty amazing...

How do YOU know they are miners? Just curious about that one for starters.. Here is a fact you can chew on straight from Greens Creek; I don't have the Kensington's figures...but I would guess they are similar.

54.52% live in Juneau
17.61% live in Alaska
27.87% live in the lower 48

I would say Juneau and Alaska fare very well from the mines and if Juneau didn't have them these past few years, our current CBJ budget woes would be many times worse....I hope we can open the AJ Mine as well. It is what founded Juneau as you hopefully know.

Judy Hodel
Judy Hodel 03/14/14 - 05:04 pm
Juneau Can Be Just Like Charlston West Virginia

Documents from a federal criminal investigation of Echo Bay Alaska, which spent millions of dollars trying to reopen the mine before giving up in 1997 delayed cleanup and closer of the mine.

The investigators found mine workers let mud, oil, grease, old sewage, ammonia and urine empty through tunnels into Gold Creek at night to avoid detection.

In response to the investigators' reports, the state will also consider reopening a 1994 report on the death of more than 300 Dolly Varden in Gold Creek.

Last I heard Juneau drinking water comes from Gold Creek.

Steven Rosales
Steven Rosales 03/14/14 - 07:47 pm
300 Dolly Varden

What a fool! Mining is so important to Juneau. Way more important than your job at the university. Actually you have probably never had a real job working 80 hours a week!

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