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Business/Economy

Here’s what Anchorage millennials want from their jobs

  • Author: Annie Zak
  • Updated: February 14
  • Published February 13

When millennials in Anchorage are on the hunt for jobs, they don't just want a good salary.

That's one of the highlights of a millennial workforce survey released this week by the Anchorage Economic Development Corp.

The survey, conducted in recent months, found millennial workers also prioritize workplace culture and doing work they are passionate about.

"While millennials do care about wages and benefits," the report found, "it is evident that other factors like good management, scheduling flexibility, workplace culture, and having an interest in the field of work are all aspects that play a critical role in employment decisions."

The survey aims to help businesses understand how to attract and retain millennials, broadly defined in the report as anyone born between 1980 and 2000. The survey — which had more than 1,000 respondents — is the first the AEDC has conducted specifically looking at the local millennial workforce.

Millennials make up about a third of the workforce in Anchorage, according to the AEDC, and that population is growing.

Most respondents (91 percent) said it was somewhat important or very important for their job to have a positive impact on society.

Moira Gallagher, director of AEDC's Live. Work. Play. initiative, which aims to make Anchorage a better place for all three of those things, said it's crucial to counter the "brain drain" that Anchorage has long suffered from.

"If we're not a city that's keeping our young people, eventually a city just dies," she said. "That innovation and entrepreneurship that comes from people in their 20s and 30s is just critical for an economy."

There are some ways in which millennials in Anchorage are no different from other age groups in terms of what they want out of work: salary is the most important factor when it comes to wages and benefits. Health insurance is also a top priority as far as traditional benefits.

When it came to non-traditional benefits, 74 percent said education reimbursement was somewhat or very important, followed by travel opportunities and child care.

"The trend we're overall seeing is a priority of millennials of time over money, or at least the ability to make that choice," Gallagher said. "So instead of having all of your time dictated and you have two weeks of PTO a year, it looks from this data as though there are a lot of millennials who would exchange a cash bonus at the end of the year for just more days off."

Getting people to live in Anchorage is another part of the challenge for businesses that want to attract and retain young workers, Gallagher said.

"They're losing kids who were born and raised here and they're losing candidates from out of state," she said. "In other Live. Work. Play. projects, what we've seen is an emphasis on downtown living, housing closer to the urban core that's also small and more affordable.  …  And we don't have that. We also need to really focus on our arts and cultural scene."

The survey came with a sizable caveat that the majority of respondents were white and female, which doesn't fully represent Anchorage's diverse population. Most respondents also make more than $40,000 a year and have higher levels of education than what's average in the population. The survey results are also likely over-representative of white-collar jobs, according to the report.

The survey was sponsored by Wells Fargo, Providence Health & Services Alaska, Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alaska, and staffing agency Alaska Executive Search.

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