New survey shows some signs labor shortage in Anchorage is easing

Downtown Anchorage, with water in the foreground and mountains behind.
Downtown Anchorage photographed from the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail on Saturday, August 19, 2023. (Dev Hardikar/Alaska Public Media)

The Anchorage Economic Development Corporation released a report in May analyzing the jobs, skills, education levels and certifications most sought after by employers in Anchorage. 

AEDC president and CEO Jenna Wright said Anchorage still has more job openings than people that can take them, largely due to outmigration. But she said there are fewer jobs being posted per unemployed person than there were in 2023, a sign that the job market is beginning to balance out. 

“The ratio of jobs to unemployed persons is actually coming down, showing that there’s a little bit more of an equilibrium that we’re getting to in the overall job market,” Wright said.

The report found over 17,000 unique job postings led by the State of Alaska, Providence and the Anchorage School District. More than 2,600 employers posted job openings and a median salary of $59,000.

The Real-Time Jobs Intelligence Report covers job postings active between January and March of this year. The report said the majority of job postings were hiring applicants with a high school diploma or equivalent, followed by a bachelor’s degree.

Wright said the only sectors that haven’t fully rebounded from the coronavirus pandemic are retail and financial services.

“I think in both of those cases, those are industries that are really going through automation right now,” she said. “That doesn’t mean folks don’t need to go in [person] to take care of some things- but overall automation is affecting those industries.”

Registered nurses have topped the list year after year for job openings. Wright said there’s always a need for nurses because Anchorage acts as a regional hub for many medical services and serves a high volume of patients. 

Also on the list of top job openings are administrative assistant and customer service representatives. Wright said these positions are needed in many organizations, so they’re always in high demand. But, she said those jobs generally don’t pay well.

Wright said it’s becoming more common for employers to seek certifications that aren’t a traditional college degree. Across the state she said employers are increasingly looking for workers in the trades, like carpenters and plumbers.

“Those are incredibly high paying positions. In some cases, you can get an ‘entry level job’ for six figures,” said Wright. “It’s a really lucrative environment for Alaska and encourages employees to be in right now.”

Wright said universally, employers look for strong workplace skills which includes problem solving, creativity and punctuality.

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