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Arts and Recreation Employment Growing

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AK DOL

New statistics show increased job growth in Alaska’s arts, entertainment, and recreation sector.  KDLG’s Chase Cavanaugh has more.

The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development says that jobs in arts, entertainment, and recreation have increased greatly over the last decade.  A small but varied category, it covers jobs in areas such as gambling, sports teams, museums, and the performing arts.   State Labor Economist Neal Fried says although there isn’t a clear reason for the increase, the growth has been at nearly twice the level of all employment.

“I can’t really say why. I can just say that the numbers have seen a nice job in employment, especially in the last three or four years. It went from a decade ago 3900 to 4800 in 2013, which, given its size, is pretty strong growth.”

77% of these jobs are in amusement, gambling, and recreation.  The bulk of these 426 separate businesses are at outdoor activities, such as golf, skiing, and backcountry guides, as well as in bowling alleys and pool halls.  The second largest part is gambling, which, according to Fried, generated significant receipts.

“The total amount of pull tabs and bingo together were $361 million, and the biggest single number was for pull tab at 281, so there’s quite a bit of money changing hands in that industry across the state.”

The two other categories in the analysis are performing arts and museums, zoos, and parks.  The former category makes up about 14% of jobs and consists of amateur and semi-pro athletics as well as theater, concert, and dance groups.  The latter category takes up only 8%, but has attracted more than 300,000 visitors throughout the state. 

Many of the employees in these types of jobs work part time, and have lower wages than other industries, earning $19,500 per year on average.  Fried says there are even more people that are self-employed, and don’t contribute directly to these statistics.

“There are 3140 firms that were accounted for in tax records where they had at least $1000 dollars in receipts that fit in this category that are not necessarily being counted in employment.”

Nevertheless, he still considers the industry’s impact significant.

“From an employment standpoint, it probably affects fewer people (we’re talking about 1.4% of all employment), but its effect on the population is much larger because so many people partake in one of those or more, arts, entertainment, or recreational opportunities, that exist in the state.”

More information on this study can be found in the August issue of Alaska Economic Trends, a publication of the Alaska Department of Labor.