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Mauling job growth estimates.

Mauling job growth estimates

It's Saturday afternoon and the question is: Do you know where your children are? In most cities the answer these days is "At the mall!" It's true. The largest congregation in town is not frequenting the building with the high pitched roof. They're being preached to all right, but to buy soles, not save them (how else can all those shoe stores stay in business?).

According to the International Council of Shopping Centers (the spokesthing for mall matters), there are currently 36,000 malls in America. In total, they provide 17 square feet of shopping space for every U.S. resident. The largest, based in Southern California (naturally), has a yearly sales volume of more than $700 million. That's larger than the annual gross national product of many developing nations' economies.

Today's modern mall is not merely a shopping center, however. It's a life center, complete with day-care facilities, dentistry, health clubs, cinemas, fast food and even a few funeral parlors. In fact, if you want to know what a space station will look like in the future, you need go no farther than the midtown mall of today. It's a completely self-contained environment.

I've made some quick calculations. Leasable mall space in 1980 was about 3 billion square feet. In 1989, leasable space had grown to more than 4.2 billion, a 40 percent increase. At this rate, most downtowns of America will be under cover by the year 2020. Just think of it: No one will ever need a domed stadium again. Everyone will live, work and breathe surrounded by plastic plants and shoe stores. They've even made a movie about it - Total Retail.

OK, now that you know where your kids will be spending their time during the |90's, what do you suppose they'll be doing besides shopping? Fear not. The government is here to help you on this one. The Alaska Department of Labor has just released its annual industry and occupation forecast. The outlook publication estimates employment by job category from a 1989 database through 1994.

Given the mall mania over the last 10 years, it should come as no surprise that the labor department feels that 330 net new jobs annually will be created in Alaska for retail salespersons. Those working outside the mall, however, may not do quite so well.

The department also has estimated the number of real estate brokers added to the job roles between 1989 and 1994, fewer than 1 annually. This is either a good forecast, a bad joke, or a powerful message to view your house as a consumption item as opposed to an investment good.

Cheer up. If real estate takes another crash, you can always leave town. There will be eight new travel agents statewide to sell you that ticket to Hawaii in each of the next four years. To buy it, you'll probably have to spend your life savings, but you won't have to wait in line at the bank.

By '94 there should be 18 bank cashiers passing over the bread, up from only 15 in 1989. Speaking of bread, no problem there either. Bakery jobs are expected to rise by 10 annually during the early part of the decade.

If you're planning on bolting without paying the mortgage, however, better watch it, Brother! Twenty four new (presumably hard-boiled) private eyes will have arrived before 1995. The police, of course, won't be much of a problem. Only six new officers are expected statewide in each of the next few years.

If all else fails, you can always turn to the government. Here we are going to see some significant growth. By 1994, federal, state and local employment is projected to increase by 768 jobs. It's enough to drive you to drink. Luckily, we're expecting 170 new bartenders over the same period.

Table : Alaska Occupation Forecast 1989-1994
 Net New
Occupation 1989 1990 1994 Jobs(1)
Lawyers 1,985 2,013 2,154 34
Optometrists 77 79 83 1
Reporters 217 219 225 2
Real Estate Brokers 46 46 49 1
Barbers 103 102 129 5
Bartenders 1,501 1,520 1,671 34
Government, State 15,259 N/A 15,696 87
Government, Total(2) 46,848 N/A 47,696 154


Source: Alaska Department of Labor, Alaska Industry/Occupation Outlook to 1994

(1) Average annual job growth for the five-year period from 1989 to 1994. (2) Includes federal, state and local government positions.

Andrew Safir is president of Recon Research Corp., a Los Angeles-based economic consulting and advisory firm with clients in Alaska.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Alaska Business Publishing Company, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:The Economy According to Safir; the future lies in retail sales, shopping malls
Author:Safir, Andrew
Publication:Alaska Business Monthly
Article Type:column
Date:Apr 1, 1991
Words:763
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