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The Kodiak History Museum’s board of directors approved a 23% pay increase for museum employees last week. The wage increase will cost the museum $121,000 next year. It goes into effect next month for all six staff members.
Kodiak History Museum Executive Director Sarah Harrington says the increase in wages will be cost-effective for the museum in the long run.
“Staff members are the biggest assets we have at the museum in serving our community. And by hiring, by attracting and retaining staff, who are well qualified for their positions, and can basically give the museum more bang for its buck in terms of the services that we offer, we can show that that investment is well worth it,” Harrington said.
Harington says there were a number of reasons for the wage increase, including pay equity for women in the museum workforce. Over the years, the Kodiak History Museum had been run by volunteers before moving to paid staff, according to Harrington.
“But those positions were largely labors of love. And typically, they employed women who were interested in doing the passionate community building work that the museum still does today, but often part time or under compensated wages,” Harrington said.
Harrington says the museum also considered Kodiak’s competitive labor market in their decision. Alaska’s record low unemployment rate has been driving labor shortages, with national unemployment sitting at 3.6% according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And employers around the country are facing hardships staffing their positions.
Margaret Greutert is the collections manager and grants coordinator for the Kodiak History Museum. She started at the museum four years ago, and says that the pay increase goes a long way for young professionals like her.
“I was about a year out of grad school, strapped with student loan debt and being asked to move to a relatively expensive remote location that I wanted to go to, but that can be a hardship for people, especially if your starting salary is well below some other institutions,” Greutert said.
According to Harrington, the museum is able to fund the wage increases without tapping into its endowment fund.