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PUBLISHED: 4:16 PM on Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Juneau's economic indicators send warning
A report on Juneau's key economic indicators shows downward trends continuing and that correction is needed, reports Lance Miller, executive director of the Juneau Economic Development Council.

"We have challenges before us. It will take a united effort - government and business with public support- to make a course correction," Miller said.

JEDC presented its report and findings at the assembly meeting of the Juneau City and Borough on Aug. 6.

The report looked at recent data for cost-of-living, housing prices, employment and population statistics, and compared this data to prior years and to other areas of Southeast, Alaska and the US.

The 2007 indicators' report shows:

• Juneau population declined in 2006 by 1.1 percent (532 persons)

• School enrollment continues to decline (10 percent lower than in 1999)

• The Juneau population is rapidly aging

• Employment increased in Juneau at less than half the statewide average

• The unemployment rate in Juneau was lower than the statewide average

• Personal income increased but lagged behind other areas in the region or state

While Juneau currently seems to be in a boom period because of several large construction projects and new businesses in Juneau, Miller cautions that there is nothing of size coming behind them.

Several government agencies with office in Juneau are downsizing or discussing moving elsewhere. The Kensington mine, which can add 375 jobs, may be delayed for several years because of lawsuits, he noted.

"We see a path forward where new ideas and new projects are evaluated in an unbiased way," Miller added. "Change is inevitable.

"It is up to us if we will be supportive of reasonable growth or continue to see no growth and declines along many fronts."

With consultant the McDowell Group, JEDC produces the annual indicators each summer. The full report will be available Tuesday online at www.jedc.org.

The indicators are sponsored by the City and Borough of Juneau, Juneau Chamber of Commerce, Juneau Convention and Visitors Bureau, Wells Fargo, First Bank, Coeur Alaska, Alaska USA Federal Credit Union, Alaskan Brewing Company and Coastal Helicopters.

Founded in 1987, JEDC has 10 employees and offers a variety of assistance programs and partnerships for entrepreneurs, new and existing businesses, young workers and students.

JEDC supports sustainable, economic development initiatives at the local, regional and state levels.

Its revolving loan program provides direct loans and offers business-consulting services.

Its statewide programs include SpringBoard, the Knowledge Industry Network, and the Wood Products and Development Service.


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