- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 24, 2014

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - Government jobs in Juneau are decreasing while private sector jobs are on the rise, though the largest growth area tends to be in lower-paying positions, according to a new report.

The Juneau Economic Development Council’s 2014 Economic Indicators and Outlook found the leisure and hospitality field, which includes tourism, restaurants and hotels, to be one of the city’s growth areas.

The cutoff between a low-paying and moderate-paying job, adjusted for Alaska’s cost of living, is $13.50 an hour.

Local and tribal government jobs fell by 6 percent during the last decade in contrast with Juneau’s 6-percent increase in population. Federal civilian jobs are among the best-paying in the capital city, but there are fewer of those positions. State jobs were down a bit during the past decade, while Anchorage and Fairbanks have seen in increase in state jobs, the Juneau Empire reported (http://bit.ly/1quIJIQ ).

Government remains the biggest employer in Juneau.

The city has seen a relatively low unemployment rate and a large number of non-resident workers. Researcher Eva Bornstein sees opportunities either in hiring local residents for jobs that often might go to nonresidents or in attracting seasonal workers to become a permanent part of Juneau’s workforce. One challenge with that, though, is housing. Juneau has a chronically low vacancy rate, and the new housing units built over the past decade have barely kept up with the growth in population.

“We are treading water,” the council’s executive director, Brian Holst, told Juneau Assembly members this week.

The cost of living and health care are higher than the national average. Heating costs are also higher than the national average, but other Alaska communities - particularly in rural areas - are hit much harder.

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Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire, http://www.juneauempire.com

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