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Alaska Economic Update (Part 3)

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by Mark Edwards (Full Source is Here)

Population remains virtually unchanged in 2015 - The most recent Department of Labor estimate for Alaska's population is 735,625. That is an increase of 271 people net for the year.

Over the last decade we have been averaging about 11,000 births and 3,500 deaths for a net natural increase of about 7,500 per year. Natural increase was 7,427 in 2014 and 7,045 last year. For the last two years there has been a much larger than normal net out migration of people, -6,739 and -6,774 respectively. This is the highest level seen since there was a net loss of -19,245 people between 1986-87 and -15,710 people from 1987-88. The driving factor is likely to be the relative improvement of the U.S. and world economy compared to Alaska. Also, the aging baby boom population may be slowly retiring out of Alaska.

The total growth in the last two years has been only 1,009 people. To put this in perspective, the average population growth for the prior decade was 9,587 per year from 2003 to 2013...

The unemployment rate finished the year at 6.6% - The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Alaska for December was 6.6%. This is a slight increase from 6.4% at the end of November. Alaska typically sees seasonal increases in unemployment as a result of the expected changes in tourism and weather-related construction and natural resource extraction jobs...

U.S unemployment rates improving much faster than Alaska - Alaska's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 6.5% in December, compared to the U.S. rate of 5%. The comparable national rate improved considerably from 5.6% year over year...

The unemployment rate is better in Alaska’s largest communities. The preliminary, not seasonally adjusted, rate for Anchorage was 4.9%, Juneau 4.7%, and Fairbanks at 5.6%. The Mat-Su rate was the exception at 8.1%, as local jobs are harder to find and many people commute into Anchorage for work...

Ketchikan and Sitka are the two newest markets for Northrim. They show moderate rates of unemployment at 7.5% and 5.5% respectively in November...
Personal income rises 4.7% - Total personal income for Alaska was $41.8 billion annualized in the third quarter of 2015, according to data released by the U.S. Department of Commerce - Bureau of Economic Analysis. This is an increase of $1.9 billion compared to one year ago, or a growth rate of 4.7%. That equates to per capita income of $56,803 in Alaska. This is slightly lower than the 6% growth rate the prior year.

The growth rate in personal income for Alaska between the 2nd quarter and the 3rd quarter was 0.6%. This is compared to the national average quarterly change of 1.3%. Alaska’s slower improvement actually ranked us last at 50th of the 50 U.S. states.

Read More: Study Finds Widespread Economic Benefits of Alaska Ferry System 

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