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Peninsula wage growth keeps pace with state

Wage growth in the Kenai Peninsula Borough outperformed the state average over the past 10 years. In figures released by the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, the state average went up 5 percent between 2006 and 2016, but grew 6 percent in the Kenai Peninsula Borough.

The average wage in Alaska was $50,790 in 2006, and rose, in inflation-adjusted dollars, to $53,160 last year, a gain of $2,370.

The average on the Kenai in 2006 was $44,200 and rose $2,708 in the succeeding decade to $46,908 today.

In the report, authored by state economist Neil Fried, 21 of the 24 regions measured in Alaska saw “real wage gains,” which ranged from 1 percent in the Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area, to a whopping 39 percent in the Aleutians East Borough.

Like the Aleutians East, three of the five areas that saw double-digit growth have significant seafood processing industry, including the Bristol Bay Borough and the Aleutians West Census Area.

However, Alaska’s second-largest fishing region, the Kodiak Island Borough, was one of two areas that actually saw a drop in average wage. Kodiak’s dropped 2 percent, while the City and Borough of Yakutat fell by 1 percent.

But Fried cautions that unlike income measurements, which are based on where workers live, the wages measurement is based on the location of the job. His caveat helps explain the $96,324 average wage in the North Slope Borough, where high-paying oil field jobs area concentrated, though most of the employees live elsewhere.

The figures were released in the current issue of Alaska Economic Trends.