Alaska needs nonresident workers
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The Alaska economy, in general, is very dependent on nonresident labor, Jim Calvin, a managing principal in the McDowell Group, told people attending the Alaska Oil and Gas Associationís annual lunch on Oct. 27. Calvin was presenting a report by the McDowell Group on the role of the oil and gas industry in the Alaska economy.
In highly seasonal industries, such as seafood processing and visitor-related industries, the proportion of out-of-state workers is particularly high. But in the oil and gas industry, the relative number of non-resident workers varies considerably between different industry sectors.
Using data from the Alaska Department of Labor, the McDowell Group found that 20 to 30 percent of the people employed in the oil and gas production components of the industry live out of state, a proportion somewhat similar to that in the mining industry, Calvin said. Resource extraction activities tend to be characterized by high labor mobility and have work rotas convenient for people traveling long distances from home, either from out of state or from many different parts of the state, Calvin said.
By contrast, refineries and the operator of the trans-Alaska pipeline have work forces consisting of more than 90 percent state residents, he said.
And over the past 10 years, the relative numbers of resident and nonresident oil and gas workers have tended to remain somewhat consistent, trending up and down in parallel, he said.
However, Calvin cautioned that the Department of Labor data used for the McDowell Group report may somewhat overstate the number of nonresident workers. The data comes from Alaska permanent fund dividend applications that require a person to live in state for nearly two years before being considered a state resident, he said.