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Before recent rise in inflation, Alaska wages grew 11% from 2010 to 2020

Alaskans cashed in from 2010 to 2020 as yearly wages rose 11% from 2010 to 2020 when adjusted for inflation.
Published: Mar. 7, 2022 at 10:23 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Alaskans cashed in from 2010 to 2020 as yearly wages rose 11% from 2010 to 2020 when adjusted for inflation, according to the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

The group said they calculated average wage data from payroll reports taking the total payrolls and dividing them by the total number of jobs.

The Aleutians had the biggest spike in average wages from 2010 to 2020, as the Aleutians East Borough saw an uptick of 48%, while the Aleutians West Census Area rose 36% during that same time. The lowest change in wages came from the Yukon-Koyukuk Census area rising $854 or 2%.

The Department of Labor looked at industry wages across Alaska as well. The seafood processing industry rose 35% which was the biggest while the construction industry only saw a wage increase of 1%.

“We’ve seen that in construction before, where wages making real gains over time has been a lot slower for that particular industry than for a lot of other industries,” state economist Neal Fried said. “Seafood processing, of course, we saw a 35% increase. Now part of that is probably just because there’s so much volatility in that industry. The employment levels change a lot year to year. The other thing about that is also it’s affected by changes in minimum wage.”

While 2010-2020 was a strong stretch for wages, that has yet to be seen from the past two years as inflation has been on the rise recently.

“... We know what the inflation rate for 2021 was, it was very close to 5%. Will wages increase 5%? Possibly not,” Fried said. ”... It looks like at least for the next couple of years, I mean inflation could take a bite out of any wage gains. It’s still too early to tell.”

The number of workers and wages in Alaska plunged during the COVID-19 pandemic from 2019 to 2020. The Department of Labor statistics show art, entertainment, and recreation saw a dip of -32.6% in total wages and -34.15% total workers while accommodation and food service wasn’t far behind seeing a -19.8% drop in total workers and -26.5% total wages.

“It’s going to take a number of years, it looks like, to get back where we were in 2019, which we might call the last sor of normal, pre-COVID year,” Fried said.

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