In the past decade, Alaskan wages have grown an average of 12 percent. The previous decade (1990-2000), wages fell by 8 percent, then rose by 5 percent, resulting in a net drop in wages.
In a March report, the Department of Labor says the drop in income was due to difficulties faced by oil and timber companies. As their business opportunities stalled, they shed workers, while lower-paying retail jobs were on the rise.
The recent rebound in oil and gas has helped push wages back up. Alaska’s best years for per capita income were in the 1970’s, when an influx of single men with no dependents were earning “fat paychecks from oil pipeline construction.” We’re seeing a return to those conditions as oil and gas jobs are paying nearly three times the state average.