Thank you for your informative news coverage of the Juneau Chamber of Commerce forum held last weekend.
Sound off on the important issues at
The comment that many business owners reported their business had been flat over the last five years stood out for me. Could business be flat because so much of our workforce in the public sector has had flat wages? Wages that haven't kept up with inflation?
The mine and the road may or may not happen, but we have a workforce in place whose wages have fallen far behind in inflation. Starting wages for state of Alaska employees have fallen 40 percent since 1985, while new hires don't even get a pension.
State employees provide valuable public services and are needed to do everything from protecting the public to processing the permanent fund checks. In turn, they contribute back into the local economy, buying basic necessities and extras with discretionary income. I submit that these flat wages and an increase in the basic cost of living have left our public employees with less to spend.
It is time for our community to recognize the value of this vital workforce and their contributions to our economy. Fair pay and benefits will help everyone, including the business community.
It certainly doesn't hurt to plan ahead and dream of big projects, but please don't forget about a basic cornerstone of our economy. Truly, "business could be better" for all!