Growing Alaska job market, a promising future for UAA grads

For the last three months, Alaska’s unemployment rate has hovered between 6.6 percent and 6.4 percent indicating a slow but steady increase in employment for Alaskans. The national unemployment rate has been coming down faster, but that’s because the Lower 48 has more to recover from since the 2007 recession.

Neal Freid, economist for the Alaska Department of Labor, said, “Our rate is back to sort of the long-term average or slightly below the average, whereas the national rate is still way above the average.”

Freid says this is because Alaska’s economy did not go through the deep recession that the rest of the country did, and as a result, Alaska does not have anything to make up for.

Alaska lost a few jobs in 2009, but in 2010 those jobs were recovered, and Alaska has seen a steady increase in employment from then on. Certain states, such as Washington, are also seeing increases in employment, but it all depends geographical location, said Freid. Overall, there is a deficit of about 1 million jobs in the United States.

Currently, the healthcare industry is seeing exponential growth nation wide. There are a wide variety of jobs in healthcare and a wide variety of earning potential.

Freid said, “If you are graduating with a degree in nursing, then your wages are going to be pretty good.”

The oil industry is also growing, but it’s a smaller industry that does not employ as many people as the healthcare industry.

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In the past, the United States government has been a big employer, but the public sector is shrinking so it’s been more difficult to find government jobs.

According to Freid, a UAA student who graduated within the last five or six years is well-placed, since Alaska was not hit as hard in the recession. The situation was decent then, and it still is now.

The Career Services Center at UAA can assist students and alumni in finding a job.

According to Natalie Elder, office manager at Career Services, one of the best resources the center offers is its jobs database. Recently, 3,798 employers were registered on the database with 263 active and available jobs. Unlike other job boards, the Career Services database is monitored closely in order to ensure the employers are legitimate and jobs openings are current.

“We have resume and cover letter assistance, so basically it’s one-on-one appointments,” said Danica Bryant, coordinator of Work Force and Career Development. “I’ve done a couple where there were siblings and they wanted to meet together, so we can do group appointments as well.”

The appointments last anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, depending on what service is being used would like to have reviewed. Students and alumni need to have their documents turned into the center by 8 a.m. the day of their appointment so they can be thoroughly reviewed.

Bryant says that one of the services offered is the mock-interview, for practice, since they know that interviews can be nerve-wracking. These mock-interviews are tailored to the job the student is applying for, and can be very helpful. They are treated like real interviews, with students being required to dress for- mally and come early.

Career Services also hosts job fairs in the Student Union each semester. The spring semester citywide job fair is coming Feb. 13. One week before the fair there will be a resume share in the Career Services office. The resume share will run like a speed dating event with local employers on hand for timed reviews of resumes.

Elder, said they have helped hundreds of students and alumni gain employment. Elder wants students to know there is a Career Center on campus that is always ready to help them find jobs, and it’s totally free. The average wage in Alaska is $21.00 per hour.

To make an appointment with Career Services, call 907-786-4513 and choose Option 2.