The Alaska minimum wage remains at $7.15 per hour, while the new federal minimum wage will be $7.25 per hour. This means that for the first time since the Alaska minimum wage was passed, the state rate is lower than the federal one.
On July 24, 2009, the federal minimum wage will increase by 70 cents from $6.55 per hour to $7.25 per hour. On that day, thirteen states will increase their minimum wage rate, too. These states, including Oklahoma, Texas, simply adopt the federal minimum as their own, so when the federal rate changes their minimum wage rates change, too.
The higher federal minimum wage will affect some but not all employers in Alaska. When an employee is covered by both federal and state law, the employee is entitled to protection under whichever law confers the greatest benefit.
Employers with more than $500,000 in revenue or those who engage in interstate commerce are covered by the federal minimum wage law. Effective July 24, 2009 those Alaska employers must begin paying the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.
An Alaska employer engages in interstate commerce (more…)
According to the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, minors under the age of 16 cannot legally be employed on a commercial fishing boat in the state. There is an exception under the law, however, for a minor working on a boat that is owned and operated by a parent.
Recently, a fatal accident (more…)
The U.S. Department of Labor recently announced awards totaling $125 million to 69 community colleges across the country under the President’s Community-Based Job Training Grants Initiative.
One of those grants, in the amount of $1,858,528 was awarded to the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, to train healthcare workers.
The money goes to community colleges and other local training facilities to help prepare workers of all ages to compete for jobs in high-growth industries. The 69 grants were awarded to the top competitors out of a field of 341 applications in response to a competition announce in August, 2007.
“Community colleges are in a unique position to prepare local workers for careers in high-growth industries,” said Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. “The $125 million awarded today will expand enrollment in education and training programs and provide more workers with the skills they need to succeed.”
Community-Based Job Training Grants aim to strengthen the role of community colleges in promoting the U.S. workforce’s full potential. The program was initiated in 2005, with 72 grants. The second round of 70 grants was made in 2006.
The 69 grants for 2008 will benefit workers in 36 states, including Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.
“Preparing local residents for careers in growing hometown industries is critical to improving the quality of life of thousands of Americans,” said acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training Brent R. Orrell. “These programs will provide participants not only with the skills needed to gain employment, but the change to enter into careers that offer opportunities for advancement.”
The Community-Based Job Training Grants help workers prepare for careers in high-growth industries where skilled workers are in high demand. The program trains workers for high-paying jobs with progressive career advancement. The grants are awarded to community colleges in areas where industries need workers with a particular set of skills. For example, a grant for training in the energy industry may be awarded to a community college in New Mexico near a cluster of nuclear power plants that require more skilled workers.
A number of factors have contributed to changes in the American workforce over the years. These include:
- Technology and innovation
- Aging of the workforce
Increasingly, businesses in certain industries have difficulty finding trained workers. Nationwide, these industries include health care, energy, advanced manufacturing, construction, biotechnology and logistics. In addition, employers in some areas need workers with specific skills, such as the hospitality industry in Crescent City, California and the movie industry in Culver City, California.
More Alaska Community Grants
The Community-Based Job Training Grants increase the capacity of community colleges to provide training in local high-growth, high-demand industries. They achieve this goal through the development of training curricula in collaboration with local industry. In addition, the grants enable community colleges to hire qualified faculty, arrange work-study programs, internships and other on-the-job training experiences, and upgrade the school’s equipment used for training.
The grants assist local schools in training new as well as experienced workers in identified growth industries. The ultimate goal is employing workers or increasing their retention, and increasing employee’s wages, while meeting the needs of businesses within targeted industries for skilled workers.
The grants are employer-focused and build on the President’s High Growth Job Training Initiative, a national model for demand-driven workforce development implemented by strategic partnerships between the workforce investment system, employers, and community colleges and other training providers. The primary purpose of the Community-Based Job Training Grants is to build the capacity of community colleges to train workers to develop the skills required to succeed in high growth/high demand industries
The U.S. Department of Labor values its strong partnerships with business and industry. Labor Department officials believe that they drive the success of regional economies and assure the nation’s continued economic competitiveness on a global scale by putting Americans to work.
For employers, the Workforce Investment System can be a valuable addition to the company Human Resource department. For the nation, it is a valuable tool to transform the workplace for the 21st –century economy. Employers can increase profitability through a number of incentives offered in the programs, including tax credits and government training assistance.
These programs can reduce recruiting costs and increase employee retention through screening and referral of skilled candidates while developing a more competitive workforce.
The High Growth Job Training Initiative focuses on job-training in a number of high-growth fields where there are more jobs than skilled applicants. Initially, the program identified 14 sectors that are projected to add new jobs to the economy or fuel growth in other industries in the 21st century. In addition, some of these industries are existing or emerging businesses being transformed by new technology, requiring new skills for workers. The targeted sectors include: include: Advanced Manufacturing, Aerospace, Automotive, Biotechnology, Construction, Energy, Financial Services, Geospatial Technology, Health Care, Homeland Security, Hospitality, Information Technology, Retail and Transportation.
Approved Minor Work Permits issued by the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development are still in effect for workers under the age of 19. However, if the work permit lists “selling cigarettes” as a job duty, the young person will no longer be able to perform that part of their duties.
A number of young workers voiced a concern that this measure will limit employment opportunities even further. In recent months, the states jobless rate has crept up from 4.8% to 6.3%. Alaska’s unemployment rate remains in the nation’s highest 10%.
This measure was enacted because under Alaska law, a person must be at least 19 years old to purchase cigarettes or tobacco products. Legislators feared that a convenience store or gas station clerk under 19 working alone would be likely to sell cigarettes to an underage friend, or to purchase them herself. For that reason, state legislators took the step to make it illegal for people too young to purchase cigarettes, to sell them.
Anyone under the age of 16 must have a valid work permit on file with the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development to hold down a job. Youths aged 17 must also have permits to work in a restaurant with a liquor license.
Any employee under the age of 18 is entitled to a 30-minute meal break when scheduled to work 6 hours or more. No youth can be required to work more than 5 hours without a meal break.
Under state law, youths under the age of 14 may work in only a few clearly designated jobs. Those include newspaper sales and delivery, and babysitting. Youngsters under the age of 14 can also do handiwork or work in or about a private home doing chores and domestic duties. Youngsters are permitted to be entertainers, however, they must have an approved work permit from the Alaska Wage & Hour Administration.
Youths aged 14 and 15 years may work in Alaska, however, the combined time in school and work cannot exceed 9 hours per day. They also may not work between 9 pm and 5 am. Youngsters this age may not work more than 23 hours per week, during the school term, or more than 40 hours per week during school vacation.
Workers in this age group are prohibited from working in a number of industries and areas, including manufacturing, mining, canneries, boilers, meat coolers, warehouses and transportation. They cannot operate power machinery other than office machines, or perform maintenance or repair of machines. They cannot work from windows, ladders or scaffolds, operate power food slicers or grinders or use sharpened tools. In addition, they are prohibited from loading trucks, railroad cars or conveyers.
No one under the age of 21 can sell pull-tabs, a popular form of gambling in Alaska.
Alaska state law sets few restrictions on the hours that a worker over the age of 16 may be employed. However, state law does stipulate than no one under the age of 18 may work more than 6 days in any work week.
The state also designates a number of occupations as too hazardous for workers 17 and under.
Most youths in Alaska are also subject to the federal child labor laws under the FLSA, the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. In some cases, the federal requirements are more stringent than state law.
The Alaska Vocational Technical Center has been awarded a $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration, to design and construct the AVTEC Maritime Safety Training Facility.
vessel operations and safety for all types of ships that lead to U.S. Coast Guard-approved certifications, training and licenses. This expansion will provide for a new maritime safety campus on seven acres leased from the City of Seward on Resurrection Bay.
The new campus will provide comprehensive facilities located together and adjacent to a city-owned harbor and dock. The campus will include a ship fire training simulator, classroom facilities, a safety training lab, lifeboat and lifeboat launching equipment.
Fishery is one of Alaska’s most important industries. The Maritime Center was formed to train Alaskans in the maritime profession and provide the transportation industry with a highly skilled workforce trained in the unique Alaskan environment.
“We’re excited about the new training opportunities that the 4,800-square foot AVTEC Maritime Safety Training Facility will open up for all Alaskans,” said Labor Commissioner Click Bishop.
AVTEC Director Fred Esposito said AVTEC’s maritime program has been successful in training Alaskans for Alaska jobs. “We’re turning out success stories – graduates prepared for rewarding, well-paying careers
aboard the big tankers, fish processors and Alaska Marine Highway System vessels,” Esposito said.
This is just the latest in a series of grants awarded by the U.S. Department of Labor. Many grants are to promote training of the American workforce in industries that have been identified as having growing needs for workers, including biotech, healthcare, advanced manufacturing, construction and industry. A recent New York grant to train healthcare workers is just one example.
Other grants are designed to offer more job-seeking resources for the laid off workers. Communities should start applying for grants as soon after the layoff occurs as possible to guarantee that the funds arrive in time.
For example, the DOL awarded a grant of more than $1.2 million this year to help almost 250 workers in the corporate offices of Brooks Eckerd in Warwick, Rhode Island. The employees were laid off when the company was acquired by Rite Aid.
Micron Technology of Boise, Idaho, laid off 400 of its workers, who were assisted by a grant of more than $2 million.. Of the total amount, $847,538 came into the community via an immediate release.
Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao said the grant money will help the displaced workers through career counseling, training in new skills, and other services. The aid should help them “find and succeed in new jobs,” she said.
Workers in Massachusetts and Missouri were recipients. Two grants totaling more than $1.94 million offer job-seeking services for workers who have lose their jobs specifically because of plant closings. The employees involved also qualify for more aid through the Trade Adjustment Assistance program, or TAA.
In Missouri, workers were displaced when the O’Sullivan Industries plant in Lamar closed. A grant of nearly $1.1 million was released. Another grant worth $250,000 went to a program in SI WORKS. The program is charged with the responsibility of improving opportunities for workers, and to foster economic development, in 20 counties in southern Illinois.
Temporary jobs and benefits went in September to workers in Minnesota who lived in regions of the state hit by flash flooding thanks to a $3 million grant.
Besides a National Emergency Grant NEG), other grants available include the Trade-WIA Enrollment grant, the Regional Innovation grant, and the Trade-health Coverage Infrastructure grant.