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

McDowell Group will develop new economic plan for City and borough
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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