Meilani Schijvens, Director of Rain Coast Data, speaks to the Juneau Chamber of Commerce about Juneau ecomony at the Moose Lodge on Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Meilani Schijvens, Director of Rain Coast Data, speaks to the Juneau Chamber of Commerce about Juneau ecomony at the Moose Lodge on Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

State jobs, population projected to keep falling in Juneau

Tourism, mining, health care stand out as industries on the rise

Key economic indicators are trending downward in Juneau and government job losses are the key reason, according to a presentation from Rain Coast Data Director Meilani Schijvens on Thursday.

Schijvens was unveiling her annual “Southeast Alaska by the Numbers” study (done for Southeast Conference) that examines industries, communities and overall trends in the region. The presentation was very similar to the one she gave a year ago, when jobs, earnings and population all decreased across all of Southeast.

The silver lining in this year’s presentation was that jobs and earnings both increased in Southeast as a whole.

“We’re doing a bit better (than 2016),” Schijvens said. “It wasn’t a hard year to beat.”

Juneau did not follow suit, as the capital city saw decreases in jobs, earnings and population in 2017. There were decreases of 200 jobs (1.1 percent), $9 million in earnings (1 percent), and 450 people (1.4 percent), according to Schijvens’ presentation.

Schijvens said the biggest reason for the declines in these categories is the continued loss of government jobs (another similarity to per presentation a year ago). Since 2012, Southeast has lost 850 state jobs and three-quarters of those have been in Juneau, Schijvens said.

She chalked government job losses in the region and statewide up to the state’s budgetary struggles. Historically, according to the Rain Coast Data report, oil revenues used to make up 90 percent of the state’s budget. Now, oil covers about 30 percent because prices have dropped so significantly, according to the report. This has tightened the state’s budget (which has been slashed 40 percent since the 2013 fiscal year, the report states), and the state has had to lay people off.

As a whole, Schijvens told the Empire Thursday afternoon, these lost jobs are layoffs as opposed to jobs moving out of Southeast. Schijvens said this trend will likely continue, and Rain Coast Data projects state employment to drop by 2 percent from 2017.

Schijvens projects continued struggles for the seafood, state government, construction and retail industries. She said those in the visitor, health care, mining and tribal jobs industries should have a positive outlook. She said she expects population to continue to decrease.

Bright spots

It’s well known that the visitor industry is booming in Southeast, but Schijvens shed light on a couple other industries that have been doing well recently.

There were 80 more health care jobs (an increase of 2.5 percent) and 90 more mining jobs (an increase of 11 percent) in Southeast in 2017, Schijvens said. Health care wages in the region have increased by $22 million (a gain of 13 percent) since 2014, according to Rain Coast Data.

Schijvens attributed part of the rise in health care jobs and wages to the Affordable Care Act, saying there are many more people in the country accessing health care now than there were a few years ago. She said providers in Southeast have had to raise wages to attract and retain employees to make sure they have enough labor to keep up with the demand for their services.

Both Hecla Greens Creek and Coeur Alaska Kensington mines saw increases in the number of employees, according to Rain Coast Data, though average wages slightly dipped from $104,000 to $102,000.

Mike Satre, the current president of the Chamber of Commerce — and manager of government and community relations at Hecla Greens Creek Mining Company — said in a closing statement to the chamber is optimistic about the future of Juneau’s economy.

“We know that if we have a diverse economy in this community, we have affordable housing, we have a cosmopolitan art scene and we have a great educational system, we’ll get more of those workers to live here,” Satre said. “Having a good amount of resident workers in your community is a community problem and there’s a community solution to it.”


• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or amccarthy@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.


More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of July 20

Here’s what to expect this week.

Michele Stuart Morgan (right), a Juneau Board of Education candidate, signs a qualifying petition for Jeff Redmond (center), who is also seeking one of three school board seats in the Oct. 1 municipal election, just before Monday’s filing deadline at City Hall. At left, Deputy Municipal Clerk processes last-minute paperwork filed by candidates. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Here’s the candidates certified for the Oct. 1 municipal election ballot as the filing deadline passes

Two running for mayor, seven for two Assembly seats, six for three school board seats.

A U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Sitka helicopter hovers over Sitka Sound during routine hoist training on April 25, 2023. (Lt. Cmdr. Wryan Webb/U.S. Coast Guard)
Coast Guard calls off search for trio who went missing flying from Juneau to Yakutat

Haines pilot Samuel Wright, Yakutat residents Hans Munich and Tanya Hutchins were on plane.

Juneau Municipal Attorney Robert Palmer reacts to praise for his service from Assembly members after his resignation was announced during a May 13 meeting. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Three city attorney finalists to be interviewed in public sessions this week by Juneau Assembly

Two Juneau residents with CBJ experience and D.C.-based Army attorney seek to replace Robert Palmer.

Angela Rodell, former CEO of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp., speaks to the House Finance Committee on Thursday, June 24, 2021. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire file photo)
Angela Rodell, former Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. CEO, says she’s running for mayor

First-time candidate to challenge incumbent Beth Weldon; filing deadline for local election is today.

Republican U.S. House candidate Nick Begich, with sign-holding supporters, waves to Midtown Anchorage motorists on Election Day in 2022. (Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)
Some Alaska Republican candidates pledge to withdraw if they aren’t atop GOP votes in primary

Pledges are a way to circumvent ranked choice voting, according to one supporter.

People protesting the death of Steven Kissack gather at Marine Park after marching through downtown Juneau on Sunday afternoon. (Jasz Garrett / Juneau Empire)
Protesters demand police accountability following death of Steven Kissack

Advocates gather where he was shot, say they are raising their voices because “he’s unable to speak.”

A U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Sitka helicopter hovers over Sitka Sound during routine hoist training. (U.S. Coast Guard Photo by Lt. Cmdr Wryan Webb)
Yakutat-bound charter flight missing from Juneau

Flight departed from Juneau on Saturday with three people aboard, according to U.S. Coast Guard.

President Biden at the White House on July 3. (Doug Mills/The New York Times)
President Joe Biden drops out of race, scrambling the campaign for the White House

Withdraws under pressure from fellow Democrats; endorses Vice President Kamala Harris to take on Trump.

Most Read