Providence becomes No. 1 private employer

Posted: Tuesday, September 17, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Providence Health System in Alaska has bumped Carrs-Safeway as the state's largest private employer.

The supermarket chain had held the top spot for a decade.

Providence Health System's work force has soared over the last 10 years from 1,824 employees to 3,369, according to a recent report by the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

Carrs-Safeway employs 3,252 Alaskans. The 1999 merger of the grocery chains cut 650 jobs and closed several stores within two years, according to the state.

Behind Providence and Carrs-Safeway are Fred Meyer with 2,262 employees; Wal-Mart/Sam's Club at 2,178; and Alaska Airlines with 1,833 employees in the state.

''Providence has been growing for years,'' Neal Fried, state labor economist, told the Alaska Journal of Commerce. ''They reign prominent. It's a 24-hour business so it lends itself to a big work force.''

''In most parts of the state, the hospital is first or second as the largest private employer,'' Fried said.

Besides Providence in Anchorage, hospitals dominate private sector jobs in Bethel, Soldotna, Palmer and Wasilla.

More health care jobs in Alaska mirrors national trends, Fried said.

Health care employment in Alaska has increased 72 percent since 1990, climbing from 10,500 jobs to 18,100 last year, he said.

Public sector employers in Alaska eclipse private businesses in employment. They are, in order, the military, other federal workers, the state government, the University of Alaska and the Anchorage School District.

Providence in Alaska operates the state's largest hospital, a 345-bed facility in Anchorage, plus hospitals in Seward and Kodiak.

Health care providers showed employment growth in the latest top 100 list, with several jumping 10 places or more. Major movers were the Bethel-based Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corp. and the Anchorage-based Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium.

Banner Health System, which operates Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, ranked seventh in private employment, and Juneau-based SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium was 34th with 621 employees.

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