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Anchorage has jobs, but where are the employees?

By Lauren Maxwell 7:59 PM June 3, 2014

The Anchorage job market is a tight one and economists say it’s likely to get even tighter.

As more jobs become available there may not be enough people to fill them. One reason, according to state labor economist Neal Fried, is that fewer people are moving to Alaska to find work.

“For example, in 2010 there were two states in the country who could say they had more jobs than they’d ever had in their existence, and Alaska was one, the other was North Dakota. Now, there are 15 states that can say that and that number is slowly growing,” Fried said.

For the first time in a long time, more people left Alaska than moved here. New births pushed the total population up but they didn’t factor into the work force. The unemployment rate is at 5 percent, also lower than it’s been in years.

That fact has some employers finding it a little tougher to find workers. At a job fair sponsored by the Hard Rock Café, general manager Scott Brokaw was looking to hire.

“We are hiring servers, bar-backs, bartenders, heart of the house, retail, we are just trying to fill our whole restaurant”, Brokaw said.

After four days of interviews, Brokaw said their 150 positions were nearly filled although the hiring would continue through Wednesday.

The soon-to-open Anchorage Bass Pro Shop also had a large roster to fill.The store was looking to hire as many as 220 positions before its opening next month. Manager Pat Nolde said most positions are filled but the process took longer than expected.

“It has been a tight job market, our turnout for our job fair was a little lower than what we normally expect,” Brokaw said. “But we had some really good candidates at our job fair, so it turned out well for us.”

Brokaw said the store is also paying higher wages than some other entry-level retail jobs, which may have been a factor in helping attract good applicants.

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