Southeast Alaska Experiencing Strong Economic Growth

Southeast Alaska has more residents – and more jobs – than ever.

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That’s according to a report released Tuesday during the Southeast Conference’s annual meeting in Sitka.

Meilani Schijvens of Juneau-based Sheinberg Associates assembled the report, called Southeast Alaska by the Numbers.

She says Southeast has finally come back from the 1990s timber-industry crash. It’s also largely recovered from the more recent global economic recession.

“Nearly every single economic indicator in the region is up and continuing to rise,” Schijvens said. “[Southeast] is now in a cycle of growth and is stronger than ever.

The report says the region added 2,800 residents from 2010 to 2012, the period studied. The total population hit almost 75,000, topping the previous record, a little below 74,000, set a decade and a half ago.

Schijvens says Juneau grew the most. Ketchikan, Sitka and Haines attracted many of the other new residents.

“The largest group moving here are the 20-somethings,” Schijvens  said. “They move here for jobs in the summer in the visitor industry and they stay because they have no jobs to go to.

She says Southeast’s payroll topped $2 billion for the first time in 2012, a 10 percent increase over two years.

Those wages went to 46,000 people, which is also a record.

“Leading the way were gains in mining, professional and business services, the visitor industry, construction and the Coast Guard,” Schijvens said.

The report projects the tourism, mining and health-care industries will continue to grow in future years. It says the seafood sector will remain about the same. And government and timber will shrink.

We have a link to the full Southeast economic and population study with more numbers and explanations on our website. It’s posted with this report.

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Ed Schoenfeld is Regional News Director for CoastAlaska, a consortium of public radio stations in Ketchikan, Juneau, Sitka, Petersburg and Wrangell. He primarily covers Southeast Alaska regional topics, including the state ferry system, transboundary mining, the Tongass National Forest and Native corporations and issues. He has also worked as a manager, editor and reporter for the Juneau Empire newspaper and Juneau public radio station KTOO. He’s also reported for commercial station KINY in Juneau and public stations KPFA in Berkley, WYSO in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and WUHY in Philadelphia. He’s lived in Alaska since 1979 and is a contributor to Alaska Public Radio Network newscasts, the Northwest (Public Radio) News Network and National Native News. He is a board member of the Alaska Press Club. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, he lives in Douglas.