FAIRBANKS - The number of bank tellers in the state will decline, according to predictions of a state labor study, but bank officials don't agree.
With bank customers able to pay bills online, receive paychecks through direct deposits and withdraw cash without leaving their car, the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development expects a falling demand for traditional bank tellers.
The department projected that by 2010, the number of bank teller jobs in the state will drop more than in any other profession - from about 1,000 in 2000 to roughly 840 by 2010.
Other jobs expected to decline include order clerks and insurance sales agents.
The biggest growth occupations statewide are projected to be registered nurses, fast food workers and retail sales employees.
Bank officials disagree with the prediction of fewer tellers. Growth may slow but they do not expect a decrease.
"Even with the rise in online banking and the use of ATMs, our customers still indicate that they want the flexibility to bank when and where they want to, and that includes stores," said Debbie Grahek, assistant vice president of Wells Fargo Bank Alaska, which has 51 stores - or branches - and 299 tellers in Alaska.
Marc Langland, president of Alaska-based Northrim Bank, said more transactions take place outside the bank but hiring of tellers is not decreasing.
"We're always looking for tellers. We're adding, not subtracting."
Credit Union 1 President Leslie Ellis predicted the need for tellers will remain strong at her company. The industry's heard the sky was falling on the teller occupation before.
"They said something very similar in 1983, when there was mass implementation of ATMs, at least in our state," Ellis said. But the demand for tellers persisted, she said.
"I think people have the need and desire to deal with people in person."