Juneau: Economy

Major Industries and Commercial Activity

Nearly half of Juneau's working population is employed by the federal, state, or local government. All state departments have offices in Juneau, including the Superior and District Courts. A large federal building houses the regional headquarters of several federal agencies. Those with the largest number of workers are the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Postal Service, and the U.S. Coast Guard. It is estimated that for each government worker, one private sector job is needed to supply the services required by the government workers.

Tourism is the largest private-sector employer. The number of non-Alaskan visitors to Juneau tops 800,000 each year, accounting for about half of the total Alaska visitor market. The majority of visitors travel between May 1 and October 1, though year-round travel is growing. During that time, the harbor is filled with cruise ships bringing tourists from the "Lower 48" and around the world.

Commercial fishing and fish processing are another important sector of the local economy. Salmon hatcheries and a cold storage facility operate in town, the latter processing two million pounds of salmon, halibut, black cod, and crab annually.

Transportation and trading are the other important sectors of the economy. Manufacturing jobs had been almost nonexistent but that area has become a focal point for government programs resulting in a growth spurt.

Kenneccott Greens Creek Mine, on Admiralty Island near the city, produces gold, silver, lead, and zinc, and is one of the largest silver mines in North America. In December 2004 an environmental impact study was completed allowing for the Kensington Gold Mine project to proceed. It is expected to create about 200 construction jobs for two years, then roughly 250 positions for its 10 to 15 years of operation.

The $900 million Regional Corporation Alaska Native Land Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) was enacted in 1971 to help compensate the native Alaskans for the lands taken from them when the United States purchased the Alaskan Territory from Russia in 1867. Two of Alaska's 13 regional native Alaskan corporations are located near Juneau. Sealaska, the ANCSA regional corporation for Southeast Alaska that serves 17,500 Tlingit and Haida shareholders, has its headquarters in Juneau. Goldbelt Inc., the urban native village corporation, is also located near Juneau and handles about 3,500 shareholders of primarily Alaska Native heritage. The two corporations are in the business of money management, producing timber, and studying diversification into the area of mineral rights. Juneau is also the home of Klukwan Forest Products, Inc., which holds 23,000 acres of forested land within the area's rainforest.

Items and goods produced: processed fish, ore, forest products

Incentive Programs—New and Existing Companies

Local programs

The Southeast Alaska Revolving Loan Fund (RLF), since its formation in 1997, has developed a capital pool of about $5 billion to assist area businesses in retaining and creating jobs. Entrepreneurs can go to the Business Assistance Center (BAC) for information, workshops, and a variety of other services.

State programs

The Governor's Office of International Trade provides assistance and information to firms interested in foreign trade and investment, organizes trade missions and promotions, and sponsors trade shows and seminars. The Office of Economic Development provides business assistance to new and existing Alaskan businesses and industry. Programs include business counseling, Made in Alaska, RAPIDS: Rural Alaska Project Identification and Delivery System, and the Alaska Economic Information System.

Job training programs

Business start up services are offered by the state of Alaska on a case-by-case basis.

Economic Development Information: Alaska Department of Community and Economic Development, Research & Analysis Section; telephone: (907)465-4508; fax (907)465-4506; email raweb@labor.state.ak.us. Juneau Economic Development Council, 612 W. Willoughby Ave., Ste. A, Juneau, AK 99801-1732; telephone (907)463-3662; fax (907)463-3929; email administrator@jedc.org

Commercial Shipping

The Juneau airport includes a paved 8,456-foot runway and a seaplane landing area. Marine facilities include a seaplane landing area at Juneau Harbor, two deep draft docks, five small boat harbors, and a state ferry terminal. The Alaska Marine Highway System and cargo barges provide year-round services. Juneau's docks are used primarily for the cruise ships bringing tourists to Juneau.

Labor Force and Employment Outlook

Because so many are employed in government, Juneau's workforce is better educated than is the statewide workforce and per capita income is higher. However, dependence on one industry leaves Juneau vulnerable to severe economic distress when government falters. Ongoing efforts are being made to diversify Juneau's economy. The overall labor force demonstrated significant increases in all major categories. Manufacturing and financial industries have shown great successes, and construction and mining continues to grow with the Kensington Gold Mine starting production. Employment in the service sector should remain strong. Tourism is vibrant, and there has been a change in the characteristics of the typical visitor to Alaska. Many of the new travelers are younger, more independent, and interested in family, adventure, and environment-related activities.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Southeast Region labor force as of 2003.

Size of nonagricultural labor force: 36,250

Number of workers employed in . . .

construction and mining: 2,050

manufacturing: 1,850

trade, transportation, and utilities: 7,050

information: 500

financial activities: 1,250

professional and business services: 1,400

educational and health services: 3,450

leisure and hospitality: 3,550

other services: 1,150

government: 13,650

Average monthly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $2,611

Unemployment rate: 7.2% (January 2005)

Juneau: Economy

Largest employment sectors and employers (2003) Number of employees
Federal, state, and local government 17,105
Southeast Alaska Regional Health Corp. 705

Cost of Living

The personal tax burden in Alaska is extremely low. Residents benefit from distributions from the Permanent Fund, a savings account established in 1976 by voters allowing residents to receive 50 percent of the state's royalty oil revenue. Senior citizens enjoy a $150,000 property tax exemption or a renter's rebate. The availability of vast natural resources insures utility costs somewhat lower than the national average. However, in Juneau, the overall costs are significantly higher than the U.S. average (about 30%).

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $390,000

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 134.5 (U.S. average = 100.0)

State income tax rate: None

State sales tax rate: None

Local income tax rate: None

Local sales tax rate: 5.0%

Property tax rate: varies; the highest mill level that will be levied in 2005 is 12.00. This includes the levy for general government, schools, fire, and debt service. Levy is per $1,000 of assessed valuation; assessment ratio = 100% for residential.

Economic Information: Alaska Department of Labor & Workforce Development, Research & Analysis Section, PO Box 25501, Juneau, AK 99802-5501; telephone (907)465-4500; fax (907)465-2101; email raweb@labor.state.ak.us