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Changing picture.

Changing Picture. Alaska's economy has changed dramatically in the last 20 years, reports John Boucher, labor economist with the Alaska Department of Labor in the July issue of Alaska Economic Trends. In 1970s, the public sector dominated Alaska's underdeveloped private sector, providing 38 percent of all wage and salary jobs. The federal government was the largest employer in the state with more than 17,000 Alaskans on the payroll, providing 18.5 percent of all employment.

By 1990, government employment had shrunk to 30 percent, and services had risen form 13 percent to 21 percent of the Alaska economy. Other major employers were trade (19 percent), transportation (9 percent), manufacturing (7 percent), mining (5 percent), construction (4 percent) and finance, insurance and real estate (4 percent).

Although Boucher cites national and world events and the state's maturing economy as elements, the rise of Alaska as a major oil producer was the dominant factor in the farreaching changes. During the '70s, private-sector employment more than doubled, led by high rates in the services, financial, mining and retail trade industries.

"The overriding reason for private-sector growth was a population boom that accompanied construction of the trans-Alaska pipeline during the mid-1970s," Boucher writes. "From 1979 to 1980 Alaska's population grew by 36 percent or more than 110,00 people." He adds that high wages paid by pipeline firms drove wages up.

The 1980s brought the oil bust and trouble in the banking, real estate and construction industries. From 1986 to 1988, Alaska lost a total of 20,000 jobs. On the bright side, hard-rock mining and oil and gas industries continued to grow at above national levels, and services (particularly tourism) and retail trade (particularly eating and drinking establishments) did well.

Boucher predicts that Alaska's public sector will continue to shrink and that oil, minerals, fish and timber will play central roles in employment growth. He also sees potential for light manufacturing in Anchorage developing around the air-freight industry.
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Title Annotation:employment in Alaska
Publication:Alaska Business Monthly
Date:Sep 1, 1991
Previous Article:Pair of plant openings.
Next Article:Declining production.

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