A new report from Alaska’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development predicts that the ongoing worker shortage, which has plagued businesses for the past two years, will continue in 2023.

“As Alaska’s economy continues to recover, the worker shortage will make filling positions, including those created by infrastructure spending, difficult to fill,” the January issue of Trends magazine states.

Reasons behind the worker shortage come from an aging state population and migration losses and increasingly low birth rates, the state claims.

“An older population means fewer workers, now and in the future,” Trends observes. “Alaska’s total population has been flat, increasing or decreasing by less than half a percentage point each year for most of the last decade. And, like the rest of the country, the state is getting older.”

With fewer people moving to Alaska, that means fewer younger workers as well. Movers are disproportionately people of working age in their 20s and 30s

While Alaska has historically been a young state, and remains so relative to the nation as a whole, the number of older residents has grown dramatically over the past 20 years – increasing fivefold as a percentage of Alaska’s population, the state report notes.

At the same time, fewer Alaskans are choosing to have babies, and those that do are having fewer.

“An older population means a smaller pool of working-age people, and a lower birth rate translates to fewer future workers,” Trends explains.

Adding to the shortage is the fact that there are fewer temporary workers traveling to Alaska for employment. About 20% of Alaska’s jobs are typically filled by nonresidents who travel north for seasonal work in fishing, tourism or oil and gas industries.

“A record number of job openings across the country means less draw to Alaska for both temporary and long-term work,” Trends notes.

Population flow is another obstacle to filling jobs. Fewer people are moving to the state and staying long enough to apply for a Permanent Fund Dividend, which is how the state gauges residency.

A recent report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce notes that there are still 3.3 million fewer Americans participating in the labor force today compared to February of 2020.

“Alaska has always had the biggest yearly population flows both in and out, but in the last decade, the scale tipped to more loss than gain,” Trend states. “Net migration losses were large enough in some years to cause an overall population decline, although those losses leveled out and the total population increased by a tenth of a percentage point in 2021.”

With fewer people moving to Alaska, that means fewer younger workers as well. Since movers are disproportionately people of working age in their 20s and 30s, they are most likely to bring children in tow.

The shortage in workers, while exacerbated by pandemic mandates and restrictions, was already declining nationwide for decades.

“Despite Alaska having fewer jobs now — about 11,000 below 2019 — the worker supply is still short,” Trends reports. “Job openings hit record numbers last year. The worker shortage was evident as businesses continued to reduce hours or services in 2022, even as the pandemic waned.”

So why have people bowed out of the labor force? According to the state’s report, reasons include caring for children, or other family members or because of health problems, school or training, burnout, or retirement.

Additionally, a booming stock market, less spending and government subsidies swelled retirement and savings accounts, making retirement a more attractive or feasible option for many older workers.

A recent report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce notes that there are still 3.3 million fewer Americans participating in the labor force today compared to February of 2020.

The Chamber surveyed workers across the nation who lost jobs during the pandemic to see why they have yet to return to work. Twenty-seven percent indicated the need to be home and care for children or other family members. More than a quarter (28%) said they have been ill, and their health has taken priority over work. Others claimed that they are worried about Covid at work, or they complained that pay is too low.

Publisher’s Note: It is also worthy of consideration to our beleaguered enterprises that during the years spanning the passage of Roe v Wade and the year 2005, where adults would be now turning 18 and entering the workforce, Alaskans aborted almost 75,000 members of our much needed future workforce according to published statistics.

Click here to support Alaska Watchman reporting.

What’s driving Alaska’s ongoing workforce shortage?

Joel Davidson
Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 24 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.


  • Neil DeWitt says:

    Why work when I can sit at home play/or heck people’s computers all day and get rich off government handouts. Thant statement is the honest truth. Now, your reasons are what people will tell you on a survey because it’s what you want to hear. My statement is fact. Face it, would you work is you didn’t need to? NO! Nobody wants to work. It’s a necessity of life. How about this idea, lift ALL the prior covid restrictions and stop giving out stimulus checks and see how fast those jobs will fill up. In lower 48asi travel around my home area of school years I see signs in 2/3rds of the stores and shops. I also see hordes/gangs having out on street corners and why. They don’t need to work. The government said $15 an hour minimum and those small mom and pop stores can’t make enough to pay them that AND the work ethic isn’t there. The people don’t feel like working today so I’m sick, or I feel covid coming on and take a week off. If I was a shop owner I’d be demanding a letter from the doctor for you to come back to work. Something to think about. Liberalism hasn’t helped us a bit. How many people have you heard say let’s get back to normal or the way it was before covid?

    • Gen Z for workers rights says:

      Hi neill, as a gen Z american i would like to explain why we as a generation will not tolerate past employer behavior. As we grow older the economy continues to collapse, and because of inflation (which yes has always been a thing even before biden, and trump, and obama, and bush, and clinton, and the other bush, there has always been inflation. that means the minimum wage must increase to meet the minimum financial requirements of daily life. 15/hr minimum wage has been normalized for the better in america after the pandemic, and I would even say the pandemic has helped launch a pro worker rights movement across america that has benefitted millions. Amazon warehouses are unionizing, stores are being ignored in the job search until they raise their company’s minimum pay to a livable wage of 15/hr. See the reason why alaska is dealing with a massive worker shortage is yes, a decrease in population due to high rent, but also because we are in the middle of a massive pro worker revolution within america.

  • Mary says:

    There is little incentive to go to work at a minimum wage job and barely squeak by financially when you can make more on public assistance. I don’t know about Alaska as I have never used public assistance, but a recent government report just came out stating that there are several states where people can bring in $100,000 + per year on public assistance. Doesn’t Klaus Schwab state, “you will own nothing and you will be happy.” I think this is exactly where America is headed.

  • Friend of Humanity says:

    I can tell you that for some of us, we don’t want to take the chance of contracting the “shot” through people who have had their shots and boosters. People are looking for work in environments without vaxxinated people working in there also. We need more employers to come forward and let people know the expectations about the shots.

    • Karl C says:

      This comment hurts my head

    • g ohmer says:

      If people would do their own investigation away from “big media and pharma” they’d find out the real truth about the clot shots. Chlorine dioxide will actually help people that have had the shot by clearing up their blood, only takes 6 weeks to help, of course there are those that took the shot and swear by it, Nice knowing you.

      • Friend of Humanity says:

        So much research is going on about different natural or alternative ways to clean the blood and, at least, stop any further damage. There is more and more being discovered about what the jabs are doing to people. Will we ever find out what is in the jabs? Probably not because if there is no requirement to report what is in them and no oversight in manufacturing them, whose to say that the manufacturers are even following a given “recipe?” Anti-oxidants, such as what g ohmer has suggested have been working well from what I have heard also; but will it address all the different things going on the the variety of jab recipes? Who knows!

    • Mr. T says:


  • Jen says:

    Alaska always had a worker shortage of people who want to work that’s only got worse not to be ignored. You know what keeps me working “the sluggard does not plow in the autumn, he will seek at harvest and have nothing” prov 20:4, “love not sleep, lest you come to poverty; open your eyes, and you will have plenty of bread” prov 20:13, “the sluggard says, ‘there is a lion outside!’ i shall be killed.” -he makes excuses- prov 22:13, “the sluggard says, ‘there is a lion in the road! There is a lion in the streets!” -excuse following another excuse- prov 26:13, “whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but who follows worthless pursuits will have plenty of poverty.” – be practical, don’t be a dreamer- prov 28:19, “a slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich” prov 10:4, “whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits lack sense.” prov 12:11-think of land as one’s employment or an owner’s employment where employees go to work producing a product for market.

    • Friend of Humanity says:

      I just reread your comment here and got to thinking about work. Some have chosen to stay home, adjust their lifestyles, plant gardens and make do with what they have – one spouse working outside of the home and one at home. Up until Spring 2021, both my spouse and I worked outside of the home. After much consideration, we decided that one would work at home. If we have a need that we cannot make it on one income, we’ll both be back outside of the home working. I would be interested in hearing how many are drawing unemployment and how many of these drawing unemployment or welfare are actually some of those that are coming from other countries.

  • Fallen Republic says:

    Let’s face it Alaska is a blue State, The voting cheat systems are here to stay. Get rid of Dominion machines, Mail in voting, Rank Choice voting. Democrats and Fake Republicans rule over us. high inflation, more taxes. high rent. majority of Alaskans don’t have morals.

  • Great Granny says:

    Abortion on demand is also slowing our population! Funny how that works! Not to worry tho…the dumb dems are in charge!! Yep..precious Murkowski is a voting ‘democrat’!

  • Sharon says:

    When I have asked why they are short handed I’ve been told every single time that they can’t find employees that can pass the drug test.

  • Dalton Stokes says:

    how stupid does a population have to be to let pervert nerds like Klaus Schwab, Anthony fauci, and punk ass Bill Gates depopulate you?

  • DaveMaxwell says:

    Being a whistle blower in the state of Alaska employee reporting corruption that was and is happening convinced me to declare to hell with your job and wicked corruption I was forced to endure! Along with c19 bs, clot shot enforcement, and Dunleavys feckless leadership, no wonder people respond screw you to job offers!
    I suggest that the people take their government back! Resist the corruption!

  • Michael Lindbeck says:

    Not enough workers? Well, too much public assistance without a work requirement, let alone full-time employment. Also, workers cashing in on high paying seasonal jobs, then drawing unemployment the other nine months: no one should be eligible for unemployment when the only job they work is known to be just temporary. And legalizing pot sure hasn’t increased anyone’s desire to work full-time. Finally, as long as theft & dealing remain lucrative & relatively safe from incarceration, why work a 9-5?

  • James says:

    I’m also finding it difficult to find a job…been searching for months for IT jobs. They’re their but for some reason I’m being turned away left and right…