ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - U.S. Labor Secretary Alex Acosta was in Anchorage Monday, visiting the Cook Inlet Tribal Council’s employment training offices.
The tour was day three of Acosta’s trip to Alaska, where he’s been meeting with different businesses across the state to look at ways to bolster Alaska's workforce, the state with the highest unemployment rate in the nation.
During a press conference with Senator Lisa Murkowski, Acosta commended CITC’s training facility, saying that job centers like these are crucial in putting Alaskans to work.
“The Department of Labor is very focused on what we call these one-stop centers,” Acosta said. “We are very much grateful to be able to fund them because it brings all the services into one roof, so you’re addressing not only one need but all of the family’s needs, all of the individual’s needs.”
On Saturday the secretary visited a seafood processing plant in the King Salmon area, as the fishery there is gearing up for another season. Murkowski and Acosta spoke at length about the need to streamline the H2B visa process to ensure to give Alaska’s fisheries a more robust seasonal workforce.
“The process needs to be updated. I’ve already made a commitment to the senator to update that,” he said. “It is still being done on paper, and we should be able to do this electronically now and make it easier for everyone.”
“This is not just the seafood processors, this is about whether or not the fisherman is being put on limits, this is about the whole logistics sector that has geared up for effectively an eight week season,” Murkowski said.
When asked about how trade tensions with China might affect seafood exports to Alaska’s largest trading partner, Acosta asserted the administration’s focus on rebalancing trade, and said he’s confident that trade negotiations with China will work out for the best.
“I visited one fishery that’s producing one million pounds a day of salmon and so certainly we are focused on ensuring that America is not taken advantage of and at the end of the day the hope in the outcome is that we’re all going to be better off by rebalancing this trade,” said Acosta.