The Alaska State Office Building in Juneau, the state capital, is seen on Feb. 16, 2023. (Photo by Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)

The Alaska State Office Building in Juneau, the state capital, is seen on Feb. 16, 2023. (Photo by Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)

Alaska begins process of examining workers’ pay for competitiveness

The state of Alaska has begun a sweeping analysis of state employees’ salaries to determine whether poor pay is contributing to ongoing hiring woes in the executive branch.

On Thursday, the Alaska Department of Administration published a request for proposals, seeking a contractor to perform a comparison between state pay in Alaska, pay in the private sector and pay among other governments.

The comparison will include 404 different job classes, including positions as varied as prison guards, archaeologists, ferry workers, tax auditors, and the people in charge of regulating the accuracy of gas pumps and grocery store scales.

An $800,000 contract will be issued Nov. 15, and the request calls for a final report to be delivered no later than June 30, 2024, the final day of the state fiscal year. That would allow any recommendations to be incorporated into the budget process for the following year.

During the spring legislative session, lawmakers heard extensive testimony about short-staffed state agencies and budgeted $1 million for the survey.

Meanwhile, hiring woes have continued throughout the summer.

As of Thursday, the executive branch had 15,650 positions, and 13,273 were filled; that’s 85.4%.

Historically, state officials have labeled a salary competitive if it is better than 65% of the state’s private-sector and public-sector competitors. Anything at least 10 percentage points above or below that is considered “misaligned,” the RFP states.

Anchorage wages are considered the baseline for measurement.

• James Brooks is a longtime Alaska reporter, having previously worked at the Anchorage Daily News, Juneau Empire, Kodiak Mirror and Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. This article originally appeared online at alaskabeacon.com. Alaska Beacon, an affiliate of States Newsroom, is an independent, nonpartisan news organization focused on connecting Alaskans to their state government.

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