Industry and Occupation
Industry and Occupation Trends
As discussed previously, the Southwest Alaska region’s economy is largely based on seafood. Due to many factors including seasonality of employment, proprietary information of large single-owner processing facilities and the high numbers of self-employed individuals, creating an accurate employment and industry profile of the region is challenging. Nonetheless, it is helpful to look at the available indicators to better understand the economy of Southwest Alaska.
The Department of Labor publishes Quarterly Census Employment and Wages (QCEW) data which includes the number of people employed in all industries for a particular region. The QCEW data for Southwest Alaska is limited because employment information for some of the largest employers is kept confidential. Of the industries with available information, the manufacturing industry is the one with a location quotient higher than the U.S. This is unsurprising because Manufacturing includes seafood processing, which is one of the largest sources of employment in the region.
In 2016, SWAMC funded and released A Linked Economy: Southwest Alaska’s Economic Linkages to the State and beyond, a report that updated an earlier 2004 version. Like the earlier version the study evaluated the region’s contributions and economic value to the state of Alaska and the nation as a whole. This information clearly showed the economic value of Southwest Alaska to the state and gives a helpful perspective on the importance of the region’s economy and the scale of the region’s fishing industry. According to the report, total industry output for the region represented about 6% of the total output of the state ($2.2 billion out of $38 billion for the state in 2004 dollars). Fish processing in the region accounts for 67% of statewide fish processing employment and 68% of fish processing output.
Looking at non-employer statistics is a helpful way to understand the self-employment picture for the region. Non-employment data comes from IRS tax returns and includes data for all establishments with no employees. In 2011 there were 3,404 non-employer firms in the Southwest Alaska region that generated a combined $183 million. Figure 5.3 shows the number of non-employer establishments for the top 12 industry classifications. In 2016 there were 1,662 non-employment firms in the agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting classification. This is further evidence of the high number of individuals involved in the fishing industry in Southwest Alaska.
Figure 5.4 shows the top occupations for the Southwest Alaska region between 2010 and 2016. This information includes Kusivak and Bethel Census Areas, which are not in the SWAMC region. The information comes from the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s Occupational Database, which only includes occupational information for Alaska residents. It does not include federal workers, military individuals, the self-employed or nonresidents. Among residents employed in the region, the most popular occupation in 2016 was Teacher Assistants with 941 individuals. This is a slight decrease from the year before, but Teacher Assistant occupations have remained fairly consistent over the last 5 years.