The state is in the midst of its longest recession. A new analysis by Mouhcine Guettabi, an associate professor of economics at ISER, analyzes how the recent decline in oil prices has affected the overall Alaska economy and its individual sectors, compares the Alaska recession to that of other energy-dependent states, and estimates the long run relationship between oil prices and employment growth.
All Americans spend a lot to get health care—but Alaskans spend the most per resident, face the highest insurance premiums, and have seen overall spending grow much faster. Jessica Passini, Rosyland Frazier, and Mouhcine Guettabi of ISER have compiled a chart book of publically available information on health-care spending in Alaska and nationwide since the 1990s and highlight some trends in a new publication, “Trends in Alaska’s Health-Care Spending.”The chart book, available online, synthesizes a wide range of data and present it as an objective, easy-to-use resource. The authors hope this broad information on trends in health-care spending will help Alaskans better understand what happened, consider possible reasons why, and think about potential ways to change the upward spiral.
A new paper by ISER researchers Mouhcine Guettabi, Trang Tran, and Linda Leask aims to give some context to to the ongoing debate about how much Alaska's state government should be spending, as it faces big budget deficits. The paper look at state spending in several ways.
As of 2015 (the most recent year for which cross-state data are available), per-person spending by Alaska's state and local governments was twice the national average. But much of that gap is due to Alaska's unique spending programs (PFDs being the largest but not the only one), higher living costs, and federal grants that are twice the U.S. average per person.
Adjusting for Alaska's unique spending and higher living costs, spending per person in Wyoming (another oil-producing state with a small population) was higher than Alaska's in 2015. Spending in North Dakota (another oil-producer with a small population) was within 15% of Alaska's.
Over the 20-year period from 1992 to 2015, real (adjusted for inflation) spending per person in Alaska grew much slower than the national rate—50% compared with 73%. Alaska's spending did grow faster than the national rate in the last years of that period, when oil prices were high.
Download the paper, How Does Spending in Alaska Compare? A grant from Northrim Bank helped fund this research. If you have questions, get in touch with Mouhcine Guettabi, assistant professor of economics at ISER, at email@example.com or 907-786-5496.
About 1 in 7 adult Alaskans is a military veteran, and veterans are eligible for federal and state services ranging from health care to special license plates. A new report, Alaska Veterans Needs Assessment, describes how much veterans know about the available services and what improvements they'd like to see in service delivery. The report authors are ISER researchers Mouhcine Guettabi, an assistant professor of economics, and Rosyland Frazier, a research associate.
They did the research for the Alaska Office of Veterans Affairs, and their findings are based on survey responses of nearly 600 veterans; focus groups of women veterans and disabled veterans; and interviews with people in organizations that help veterans apply for services. They found that veterans want less delay and more help in enrolling for benefits, as well as more frequent and easily accessible information about the available benefits—and any changes in benefits. But they want that information tailored to younger and older veterans and to men and women veterans, who have different needs. Veterans suggested that agencies hold seminars to explain specific benefits, send monthly or quarterly electronic newsletters, and make it simpler to find specific benefit information on federal and state web sites.
Gunnar Knapp, ISER's director, was the opening speaker at Governor Walker's conference, "Building a Sustainable Future: Conversation with Alaskans," held June 5 to 7 at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Two former ISER directors, Vic Fischer and Scott Goldsmith, also took part in the conference, which brought together Alaskans from around the state to discuss Alaska's fiscal future. The conference was held at a time when a sudden drop in oil prices has slashed state oil revenues and left the budget for the coming year several billion dollars in the red.
Oil revenues have largely funded state government for more than 30 years. Dr. Knapp's presentation to the conference, An Introduction to Alaska Fiscal Facts and Choices, summarizes the fundamental fiscal problem the state government faces over time: "Alaska oil production is falling and our population is rising. It is hard for falling oil production to support most of state government for a growing population."
The presentation goes on to describe the fiscal choices for Alaskans, unless oil prices rise dramatically and unexpectedly: adjust our spending or how we pay for it. The state government has several practical options—cut spending more, raise new revenues, or use earnings of the Permanent Fund. As Dr. Knapp points out, "None of these options are easy or popular."
Download the presentation (PDF, 2.1MB) or watch a video recording. If you have questions, get in touch with Gunnar Knapp at Gunnar.Knapp@uaa.alaska.edu. ISER publications are solely the work of individual authors and should be attributed to them, not to ISER, the University of Alaska Anchorage, or the research sponsors.
More and more people have been graduating from the University of Alaska Anchorage in the past decade. Do they stay in Alaska? What kinds of jobs do they have? How much do they earn? A new analysis by ISER researchers Alexandra Hill, Gunnar Knapp, and Blake Steenhoven looks at those questions. They found that most graduates stay in Alaska at least five years after they graduate, they work throughout the economy, and by five years after they graduate their average earnings double. Around one-quarter of graduates do leave within a few years, but it looks as if they are no more likely than other Alaskans to leave the state. ISER researchers did this work in cooperation with UAA's Office of Institutional Research and the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Download the report, UAA Graduates: How Many Stay and Work in Alaska? by Alexandra Hill, Gunnar Knapp, and Blake Steenhoven. If you have questions, get in touch with Gunnar Knapp at 907-786-7717 (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Alexandra Hill at 907-786-5436 (email@example.com).
Research Matters No. 85: Trends in Age, Gender, and Ethnicity Among Children in Foster Care in Alaska
Close to 1% of those 21 or younger in Alaska were in foster care in recent years—about twice the average of 0.5% among all those the same age nationwide. That's one of the findings of a new report by ISER researchers Diwakar Vadapalli, Virgene Hanna, and Jessica Passini, examining trends in the age, gender, and ethnicity of children and teenagers in Alaska's foster care system from 2006 through 2013. They also found that younger children make up an increasing share of those in Alaska's foster care system; that girls are somewhat more likely than boys to be in foster care; and that Alaska Native children account for about 60% of all those in foster care. Download the report, Trends in Age, Gender, and Ethnicity Among Children in Foster Care in Alaska, by Diwakar Vadapalli, Virgene Hanna, and Jessica Passini. If you have questions, get in touch with Diwakar Vadapalli at 907-786-5422 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A new report by Mouhcine Guettabi, Rosyland Frazier, and Gunnar Knapp of ISER analyzes the results of a survey of Alaska employers about what health-care benefits they offer employees. The Alaska Department of Labor conducted the survey, which covered businesses, local governments, and school districts statewide. The Alaska Health Care Commission contracted with the department and ISER for the work. The report finds, among other things, that two-thirds of Alaska businesses don't provide health-insurance, and the reason they cite most often is no surprise: it's too expensive. And although about a third of employees at Alaska firms work part-time or seasonally, very few of them carry employer-based insurance. Of those employees carrying insurance through their employers, 95% are full-time workers and only 5% are part-time or seasonal. Download the report, Alaska Employer Health-Care Benefits: A Survey of Alaska Employers (pdf, 1.9MB), by Mouhcine Guettabi, Rosyland Frazier, and Gunnar Knapp. A summary, Snapshot of Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance in Alaska (pdf, 669.9KB), by the same authors, is also available. If you have questions, get in touch with Mouhcine Guettabi at email@example.com or 907-786-5496.
Research Matters #56: High Oil Prices Give Alaskans a Second Chance: How Will We Use This Opportunity?
Since 2005, Alaska’s state government has collected as much in oil revenues as it did during the huge oil-revenue boom of the early 1980s: a combination of high oil prices and changes in the way the state calculates production taxes has created a second huge oil-revenue boom. But the oil […]
Health-care spending in Alaska reached about $7.5 billion in 2010, according to new estimates by Scott Goldsmith of ISER and Mark Foster of Mark A. Foster and Associates. For comparison, that’s close to half the wellhead value of all the oil produced in Alaska in 2010. The definition of health-care […]