In his Sunday editorial endorsing plans for the Kensington mine, Publisher Don Smith writes that the Southeast economy "has lost 4,000 jobs over the last decade."
Kensington mine project: a good fit for Alaska's future
This is wrong. Southeast Alaska's annual average non-agricultural employment in 2001 was 36,350, up by 7 percent from 1992.
Economists have many different ways to measure the number of people at work, how many different jobs are occupied, incomes, gross regional product and related concepts; none of these measures suggest that the Southeast economy has been shrinking.
The Aug. 18 editorial pointed out Southeast Alaska has lost more than 4,000 jobs in the last decade in the timber and seafood sectors. It is true Southeast Alaska has gained both population and jobs overall. However, according to statistics provided by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, Alaska Dept. of Labor and compiled by the McDowell Group, average wages for Southeast Alaska when adjusted for inflation have dropped 12 percent from 1990-99 while wages have increased 12 percent elsewhere in the U.S over the same period.
The editorial characterized the economy of Southeast Alaska as "barely registering a beat." Economic growth for the region barely kept pace with inflation, which means that it has been stagnant during the decade covered in the JEDC report. For the full report entitled "The Economy of Juneau and Southeast Alaska," see the JEDC's Web site: www.jedc.org. - Don Smith, Publisher