- Associated Press - Monday, September 22, 2014

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - Southeast Alaska’s population held steady in 2013 after years of recent growth, according to a new economic report.

The report, called Southeast Alaska by the Numbers, was recently presented at the annual Southeast Conference Membership Meeting in Wrangell, the Juneau Empire (https://is.gd/MTDziE) reported.

It shows a growth of 19 people in the region in 2013, the latest numbers in a population rebound that began in 2008. Since that year, the region has expanded by 4,200 people.

The economy and population in Southeast had been declining after 1997 because of shrinking timber and fisheries industries.

Since the turnaround, the region has reached historic highs, but last year’s numbers showed a leveling out, according to the report’s author, Meilani Schijvens, who owns Rain Coast Data, which prepared the study.

The economy grew by 19 jobs in 2013.

“So, to summarize, 19 people moved to southeast Alaska last year, and they all have jobs,” Schijvens joked during her presentation in Wrangell.

In reality, the matching growth in population and jobs is coincidental, she said.

The largest sector of the region’s workforce, government employment, shrank by 163 jobs. Schijvens said that coincides with a shrinking pool of U.S. Forest Service jobs in the region.

Forest Service jobs have dropped by 40 percent over the past 10 years, according to the report. Those jobs decreased by 10 percent to 530 over the past year. The federal government holds about 95 percent of land in the region, with 80 percent of it being the Tongass National Forest.

“To have so much of our land locked up (by the federal government), to have (those jobs) go away, is, I think, pretty surprising,” Schijvens said.

The maritime sector has emerged as a different moneymaker from the shrinking timber industry. It’s the first time Schijvens has studied that sector, which includes the seafood industry, shipbuilding, tourism and the Coast Guard.


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

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