News and Announcements
Researchers at ISER's Center for Alaska Education Policy Research (CAEPR) have recently published two articles examining issues important to Alaska's teachers.
- It’s more than just dollars: Problematizing salary as the sole mechanism for recruiting and retaining teachers in rural Alaska, by Dayna DeFeo, Diane Hirshberg, and Lexi Hill. This article, published in the Alaska Native Studies Journal, argues that improving teacher retention in Alaska’s rural schools will require both adequate pay and attention to working conditions. Full text available for download.
- Statute and implementation: How phantom policies affect tenure value and support, by Dayna DeFeo, Matt Berman, and Diane Hirshberg. This article, published in Educational Policy, discusses how teachers and principals understand, inflate, or underestimate tenure protections, and how those interpretations affect the perceived value and effectiveness of the tenure policy itself. Abstract available for download, full text available for purchase.
Around the world, there is growing interest in decentralized sources of energy production and distribution. Costs of solar, wind, and energy-efficiency technologies have also been dropping, making them attractive alternatives to fossil fuels. But those changes disrupt the business model of utilities and present unique challenges and opportunities.
Martin Boucher, a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Environment and Sustainability at the University of Saskatchewan, will talk about his research on socio-technical energy transitions and discuss his preliminary thoughts about his work-in-progress, comparing transitions in three Northern cities: Saskatoon in Canada, Lulea in Sweden, and Anchorage.
When: Tuesday, May 22, 12 to 1
A recent article in the journal World Development, by Matthew Berman, professor of economics at ISER, examines how the Permanent Fund dividend (PFD) has reduced poverty among the 60,000 or so Alaska Natives living in small, isolated communities far off the road system. PFDs are cash payments the state government makes to virtually all Alaska residents every year. Rural Alaska Natives are much more likely than other Alaskans to be poor, mostly because jobs are scarce in remote areas. The author found: Without PFDs, more than 28% of rural Alaska Natives would have fallen below the poverty line from 2011-2015, compared with about [...]
A new paper by Cliff Groh, in collaboration with ISER faculty, looks at how the state government has dealt so far with a very big problem: the state's two largest retirement systems for public employees don't have enough money to cover future costs of pensions and benefits for state and local employees when they retire. Since discovering the shortfall in 2003, the state has made special contributions of nearly $7 billion to the retirement systems. But analysts believe it will take billions more dollars in the coming years to balance the funds. That poses a major challenge for the state, in this [...]
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.
In 2017, job losses in Alaska's ongoing recession spread from the sectors first affected—primarily oil and gas and state government—to the sectors that depend on household spending, including retail trade, accommodation and food services, and leisure and hospitality. Alaska will continue losing jobs in 2018, but at a slower pace— likely in the range of 0.7%. That slower pace isn't a sign of recovery, but rather an indication that the initial shock of low oil prices has made its way through the economy.
These are among the findings of a new overview of Alaska's economic and fiscal conditions, by Mouhcine Guettabi, assistant professor of economics at ISER. He also estimates that the the fiscal uncertainty caused by the state's current lack of a plan for dealing with its huge budget deficit may be reducing capital investment in Alaska by something on the order of $200 million to $600 million a year. The overview also considers the effects of different rates of withdrawal from the Permanent Fund earnings reserve, should the legislature decide to use some of those earnings to pay for government operations.
Download the report, What Do We Know to Date about the Alaska Recession and the Fiscal Crunch? By Mouhcine Guettabi, with support from Northrim Bank. If you have questions, get in touch with the author at firstname.lastname@example.org or 907-786-5496.