Juneau’s economy is back on track. After a brief flirt with recession, Alaska’s capital city is healthy.
That’s the headline from this year’s 2011 Juneau and Southeast Economic Indicators, prepared by the Juneau Economic Development Council.
Meilani Schijvens is the primary author of the annual report, which looks back at 2010.
“This year we’re happy to announce the Juneau population is up, the Southeast population is up, employment is up, total payroll is up, unemployment is down, ” Schijvens says. “School enrollment is up, both is terms of Juneau School District and UAS. Housing starts are up and home values are increasing.”
The annual report shows increases in 2010 employment and wages in mining, fishing, health care, and federal, state and local government. But Schijvens says some of the increases in 2010 were not enough to make up for the losses of 2009.
“Just for an example, the average annual employment in Juneau grew by 2.3 percent in 2010, but in 2009 the loss was 3.5 percent and that was a big loss,” she says. “So we have these nice upward trending numbers but they don’t erase all the losses of 2009.”
The downturn in the cruise industry affects Juneau’s retail segment and city sales tax. One-hundred twenty-three-thousand fewer people arrived by cruise ship last year than in 2009. Schijvens says that’s already turning around and more passengers are projected next year.
The number of independent travelers was up: Both Alaska Airlines and the Alaska Marine Highway System report increases for 2010.
“Ferry passenger traffic was up 6.6 percent. Alaska Airlines passenger traffic was up by 3.9 percent and in 2011 that’s continuing to go up, an additional 3 percent so far,” she says.
The number of passengers traveling by small, regional airlines grew more than 17 percent last year.
The Indicators report is a one-stop guide to economic information for 2010. JEDC compiles research from federal, state, local and industry sources to help inform the business and political communities and citizens about Juneau’s economic climate. Brian Holst is JEDC executive director.
“It looks back at where we’ve been,” Holst says. “The Indicators report gives us a good snapshot of where we are. It doesn’t tell us where we’re going. We believe that by having good information, a good understanding of what the economic sitatuion is, people can make better decisions about the future.”
The population in both the capital city and Southeast region increased slightly in 2010. Senior citizens are the fastest growing segment, but the number of “20-somethings” is also rising.
The report’s bad, but not unexpected news: Juneau’s cost of living is 39 percent more than the average American city. Housing costs are 66 percent higher.
A link to the 75-page Juneau and Southeast Economic Indicators 2011 can be found at www.jedc.org.