Economy & Education


The Juneau economy relies on federal, state and local government employment for its base employment sectors.  Mining has enjoyed a resurgence since the 1980’s, with the nation’s largest silver mine and a substantial underground gold mine both located within the borough (i.e. county).  Improved prices for wild-caught salmon and halibut supports a revived fishing and processing industry, while cruise ship tourism brings a million visitors to the city every summer, supporting a broad range of shore excursions that are also enjoyed by locals.  Juneau is a regional transportation hub and shopping center for northern and central Southeast Alaska, has a growing four-year liberal arts university with 1,000 full-time students, a large health care sector, and a smaller manufacturing sector that includes fish processing, boat building, roofing and framing components and a west coast regional brewery.

Juneau has a higher cost of living compared to cities in the continental United States, approximately 30% higher than U.S. averages.  At the same time, the city’s higher wages tend to equalize the difference.  Housing prices are comparatively higher and the housing supply is typically undersupplied.  In many cases, and especially for public employees, wages are above U.S. norms.  For example, federal agencies offer a 25% cost-of-living allowance.

Excellence in Education

Juneau has three high schools, two junior highs, seven elementary schools, a Montessori pre-school and several faith-based schools.  Current enrollment is 4,800 students in the public school system, with an operating budget of approximately $143 million and 355 teachers.

The University of Alaska-Southeast is a small, four-year liberal arts school that enrolls approximately 1,000 full-time students.  The university has enjoyed steady growth for two decades, expanding programs, facilities and enrollment, and gaining recognition in marine studies and environmental sciences.

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