Government jobs support lots of residents

Posted: Saturday, March 02, 2002

Government may take money out of communities to fund its operation, but it gives money back as well, in the form of thousands of paychecks each month.

The largest employer on the Kenai Peninsula continues to be the Kenai Peninsula Borough, which paid out $97 million in payroll last year, said Neal Fried, labor economist for the state of Alaska Department of Labor.

The borough gets its large employee roster from the school district, which employs more people than any other single entity on the peninsula.

"The school district is easily the largest single employer," Fried said. "It exists everywhere in the borough, it's in every community."

Even without the added numbers from the school district, the borough by itself is one of the top 10 peninsula employers, Fried said. Individual cities, like Homer and Kenai, employ a substantial number of people as well, although they are not among the top 10 employers.

While government contributes nearly $100 million in paychecks each year to the peninsula's economy, that doesn't necessarily mean government on the peninsula is overly large.

"I think administrative government here is probably proportionally lower than other pockets in the state," said Richard Campbell, general services director for the Kenai Peninsula Borough. "We don't have a lot of regional or statewide types of government offices here. We perform the basic functions we're mandated to preform without being really bloated or organized, so we do contribute to the economy but not at the expense of taxpayers."

The other top employers on the peninsula remained the same this year. Oil industry companies, like Unocal, Tesoro and Peak Oilfield Services continue to be significant employers on the peninsula, Fried said, although they don't employ as many people as they once did.

"Broadly speaking over time, oil company employment numbers have come down," Fried said. "They are a little less prominent among large employers although they remain among the large employers. With the construction of new plants, oil is still an important player."

Other large employers are Big Kmart, Fred Meyer, Central Peninsula General Hospital, South Peninsula Hospital and the state Department of Corrections.



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