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Alaska Adds 5,000 Jobs in 2012

Alaska added over 5,000 jobs last year, matching the growth of 2011.  The state’s labor market also showed a shift from public sector jobs towards private enterprise. Construction grew for the first time in 6 years, adding around 600 jobs.  Positions in natural resources and mining, primarily oil and gas related jumped by nearly 5 percent, a total of 805 jobs.  That was matched a drop in federal government employment, which lost 647 jobs.

Mali Abrahamson is a regional economist for the Alaska Department of Labor.

"The private sector is adding jobs for the second year since 2009-2010.  The federal government is declining.  When you look at the private sector growth, you see it's responsible for most of the contributions to job growth, and much of the wage growth," said Abrahamson.

The bulk of the drop in federal employment came from civilian defense jobs, according to Abrahamson.

"This is the biggest year in the last several years.  But we did see over-the-month loss starting in late 2011 for civilian Department of Defense employment.  We're seeing  a little bit of United States Postal Service decline.  I think a lot of it is because of the age structure of workers in the federal government.  They are not replacing 100 percent of the workers as they retire," said Abrahamson.

Alaskans were paid 677 million dollars more than 2011, a jump of 4.2 percent.  Accounting for inflation, that’s more like a 2.2 percent increase.

Anyone who is self employed, for example fisherman, are not included in  the data from the state.  That’s because the department of labor relies on information from unemployment insurance records.

In the Dillingham census area, total number of jobs grew by 74.  That averaged out to 2,662 on a monthly basis.  That includes a peak of 3,443 in July and a low of 1,965 in December, a difference of nearly 1,500 jobs.  Wages actually decreased by about 700 thousand dollars to a total of  98.7 million dollars.