Labor studies predict statewide jobs trends

Two recent studies point toward a growing statewide need for labor.

The Alaska Department of Labor’s occupational forecast projects expected job growth or decline in statewide industry sectors. Also, a recently released report from the Southeast Conference takes a look at local industry and labor over the past five years.

The Department of Labor discussed its biennial industry and occupational forecast in its October issue of Alaska Economic Trends. The 10-year forecast covers 2010 to 2020.

Health care will top industry job growth in Alaska over the next decade. Ambulatory health care services, hospitals and nursing and residential care facilities are expected to grow between 28 percent and 37 percent with a combined total of 10,600 jobs.

Mining is also projected to increase employment between 2010 and 2020. The industry could add 436 jobs over the decade, an increase of almost 20 percent.

To the extent Southeast’s population is following statewide trends, though, the same patterns would hold in terms of health care dominating the growth categories. Southeast’s population is actually a little older than the statewide average,

Dan Robinson, director of research and analysis at the Alaska Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development said in a recent email.

The Southeast Alaska by the Numbers report details slight improvements in the region’s labor outlook.

“The economy in the region is no longer trending down following the crash of our timber economy, but has begun improving,” Shelly Wright executive director of the Southeast Conference said in the report.

Over the previous five years according to the report Southeast health care sector jobs increased by 245 jobs followed closely by the mining sector with 238. Health care wages jumped 34 percent while mining wages nearly kept pace with the 160 percent increase in the price of gold, climbing 63 percent.

Southeast population has grown by three percent, jobs increased four percent and the average wage has climbed from $36,117 to $41,840, a gain of 14 percent, between 2006 and 2011. Government topped all industry-related earnings in 2011 with a total of $670.7 million in wages going to 13,500 employees.

The seafood industry was second at $218.4 million in total earnings.

Southeast by the Numbers also covers topics such as timber and wood products, demographics, land ownership and energy.

Find more more Alaska Economic Trends at www.labor.state.ak.us/trends/

• Contact reporter Russell Stigall at 523-2276 or at russell.stigall@juneauempire.com.

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