ANCHORAGE - Wal-Mart moved up two spots and is now No. 2 on the list of the 100 largest private employers in Alaska, according to the state Labor Department.
State economist Neil Fried said Wal-Mart's work force in Alaska grew to more than 3,000 employees last year by expanding into grocery-selling supercenters. A company spokesman, in an e-mail to the Anchorage Daily News, said Wal-Mart Stores Inc. plans to add hundreds more Alaska workers in the coming months, including 300 at a new store in Kenai and 200 at an expanding Anchorage location.
"It's sort of amazing that someone who didn't come here until the early 90s, or mid-90s ... is now on the No. 2 spot in the state," Fried said.
Wal-Mart's supercenter in Juneau opened in September 2007. A 2008 snapshot of information from the Labor Department ranks Wal-Mart as the No. 2 overall private employer in Juneau behind Fred Meyer.
Statewide, Providence Health & Services, including Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage, remained No. 1 with more than 4,000 workers. The Carr's grocery chain fell from No. 2 in 2007 to No. 3 last year, followed by Fred Meyer and ASRC Energy Services.
The list doesn't include government jobs. Overall, the largest employer in Alaska is the military (21,000 jobs), followed by the state.
In Juneau, Fred Meyer and Wal-Mart fall to No. 6 and 7, respectively, when government jobs are included. Juneau's top five employers are State Department of Administration, the Juneau School District, the City and Borough of Juneau, Bartlett Regional Hospital and the University of Alaska.
Of the eight companies statewide that jumped at least 10 spots on the 2008 list, five are tied to oil and gas development.
"Oil was really cooking last year," Fried said.
The state economist said Alaska employed more oil and gas workers last year than it ever had before. He said "high prices do magical things" and companies are paying to maintain aging infrastructure and may need additional workers as oil becomes tougher to develop.
Private companies paid employees an average of about $44,900 last year, according to the state.
Retail jobs paid $27,700; oil and gas jobs averaged $113,500.