What did Kim Metcalfe-Helmar have in mind in her My Turn of Oct. 3 when she said, "An economy built on service-sector jobs is not what I think is best for our kids" -- a new Microsoft hub in Juneau? Even Bellevue-Redmond has more service-sector jobs than software engineers. Let's face reality. Everything I have read indicates that the largest sector of employment growth in the 21st century will be in the service industries. It is arrogant of Kim to presume that Juneau will be different from the rest of the United States in this respect, and that "her kids" won't be working any "service-sector" jobs. Mecalfe-Helmar's remarks seem to dismiss the service-sector jobs as if they don't matter. Further, I don't believe the seasonal work provided by the tourism industry is in any way inhibiting our ability to attract "white-collar" industry. On the contrary, it could be laying a better foundation for it.
As a professional working in the service industry in Juneau, I take great affront to the remark, and her insinuation that Juneau is awash in poverty, with little chance of anything more than a $10-per-hour wage. Juneau's tourism (Kim read: "service") economy goes much further than employing students and seniors in so-called low-wage jobs. My printing company, heavily dependent on tourism, employs 17 people -- 14 of which are in higher-waged "skilled" positions earning as much as twice Kim's idea of "average service-sector wage." A moment of thought would lead one to the conclusion that we are not alone in this position. Yes, there are many entry-level sales positions available; but there are also many opportunities for those with a multitude of other skills to find higher-waged, higher-benefit jobs.
I am not surprised Kim received a slight chortle from the business group she addressed. After all, these are the people sweating to guarantee payroll; these are the people who have signed personal guarantees on notes to finance their business; these are the people, along with their employees, who are generating a large portion of the tax revenues that subsidize services which help make Juneau a great place to live. I don't see anything myopic in trying to maintain your business. I have, however, felt the pain of laying off good employees, and I only hope they might at least find a $10/hour job to get them by till something better comes along.
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