A new paper by ISER faculty, Professors Matt Berman, Bob Loeffler, and Jennifer Schmidt, describes some of the long-term effects of the Red Dog Mine on local workers and communities. The researchers used a unique data set to follow workers at the Red Dog Mine from local villages for 14 years. The research focused on these questions: what percentage of the mine workers live within the region, and what percentage of the total payroll do local workers receive? How long do most local residents hired to work at the mine keep these jobs, and how does landing a job at Red Dog affect workers’ mobility and long-run earnings?
The researchers found that 57% of Red Dog Mine employees were shareholders, but only 16% lived in the Northwest Arctic Borough. Turnover was high among the relatively youthful workforce. After 4 years, only 54% of the men and 69% of the women still worked at the mine, and after 10 years, roughly a quarter of each group still worked there.
Red Dog Mine workers earned a lot more than others in the region – even after leaving the mine’s employment. However, results for men and women differed. Earnings for men who were employed at Red Dog initially exceeded three times that of the control group of employed workers elsewhere in the region and even after 10 years, the male Red Dog workers and former workers earned 80% more than the control group. Female Red Dog workers earned more, too, but the earnings gap for employed women narrowed over time until there was little difference 10 years later.
Finally, the study also looked at whether people hired to work at Red Dog were more likely to move from the region. For men, the difference in mobility was small: 72% vs 76% remained in the region. For women, the gap was somewhat larger: female Red Dog workers initially moved out of the region in greater numbers but by ten years the gap had also narrowed (62% vs 68% remaining in the region).
The study was published online in Resource Policy and will appear in the print edition in June 2020. The new article is also available in ISER’s publications database.