Private sector adds jobs, payroll early in 2014

Alaska workers earned 3 percent more in the first half of this year than they did in 2013, according to the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

Total wages in the state increased by $253 million over the first six months of 2014 when adjusted for inflation. The increase put total earnings at about $8.7 billion for the period.

Employment also grew 0.6 percent in the first part of 2014, the Labor Department reported Nov. 26. The average monthly employment was 332,473 jobs.

That job growth was strictly in the private sector. The construction trades added 979 positions, growth the Labor Department attributes to increased North Slope oil and gas activity. The opening of several large department stores, particularly in Anchorage, added 881 retail jobs early in 2014.

Federal employment continued a four-year decline with more than 714 fewer positions than in the first half of 2013.

Statewide school district cuts contributed to 441 fewer local government jobs.

The number of state government positions grew by about 500, but that was due to a reporting anomaly that counted some university workers after the holiday break in 2014 and not in 2013, according to the department.