JEDC to make presentation at Assembly retreat

    JEDC Executive Director Brian Holst.

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - The Juneau Economic Development Council will provide a presentation on the status of Juneau's economy during the Assembly's retreat Saturday.

    Executive Director Brian Holst said the presence of government jobs in Juneau has had a steadying effect.

    "We're fortunate that government jobs are a big part of Juneau's economy today," Holst said "That's important because that sector has been very stable. We've seen the state lose jobs this past year and I think that's just a continued function of weak state budgets, but the local economy, the local government, the city, and the tribal governments have been steady, and that's been really valuable for keeping Juneau doing okay."

    Holst added that, despite those high-paying, stable jobs, there's a substantial increase in unemployment.

    "Our employment rate is one of the lowest in the state and it still is, and we're very fortunate the unemployment rate continues to be lower than that of the Lower 48 as well," Holst said. "Juneau is faring pretty well, but when we look deep into the data we're seeing that the labor force participation, meaning those people that are wanting to get jobs, is also decreasing, so we're definitely seeing a contraction in employment and job opportunities for folks. [It's] a little messy with the data right now because there's so much summer employment that we're looking at, but as we get into September and October, we will start to be able to see our year-round economy, but it's down for sure and that's disappointing."

    The pandemic impacted consumer spending in Juneau, but there's been a rebound Holst added.

    "We were in a huge decline early on, but then we've seen it come back to near normal levels as of September in Juneau, meaning the amount of transactions that are happening in our community are similar to that what they were a year ago at about the same time and that's encouraging," Holst said. "They're opening up their wallets again, which is good for Juneau."

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