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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.
Diane Hirshberg, founding director of the Center for Alaska Education Policy Research at ISER, since 2009, has decided to focus on a new goal: building UAA’s, ISER’s, and her own Arctic research portfolio. Dayna DeFeo, senior researcher at CAEPR since 2014, is now the director, a job she sees as "an exciting challenge."
Dr. Hirshberg, a professor of education policy at ISER, plans to continue doing some education research at CAEPR. But she said her broader interest in Arctic research has increased in recent years, as she studied Indigenous and Arctic education issues and served as advisor to UAA 's chancellor on Arctic research and education.
As the director of CAEPR, Dr. DeFeo will continue working with a wide range of groups interested in education issues, and she intends to build CAEPR’s research in three areas: college and career readiness, teacher supply and demand, and Indigenous and Arctic education.
Construction spending in Alaska this year will be around $6.6 billion, up 4% from last year. But that overall increase is due just to a recovery in spending by the petroleum industry, which is expected to be up about 15%, to nearly $2.6 billion. Without petroleum, overall construction spending in 2018 is likely to be down about 2%, to $4.1 billion.
These estimates are from the newly released 2018 construction forecast, prepared by Scott Goldsmith, professor emeritus of economics at ISER, for the Associated General Contractors of Alaska and the Construction Industry Progress Fund. He has made these forecasts of construction spending every year since 2004.
Mouhcine Guettabi and Andrew Bibler, both assistant professors of economics at ISER, recently compared the paychecks of people in private and public sector jobs in Alaska. Using Alaska Department of Labor data from 2001 through 2016, they found:
• Average earnings are higher in the private than the public sector. That's because men earn more than women, and men make up a bigger share of private workers—55%, compared with 43% in the public sector.
• Men who work for state and local governments earn on average about $2,000 less per quarter than men working for private businesses. The reason why is that overall, men who take public-sector jobs start out at considerably lower wages—and their wages don't catch up over time, even though they increase somewhat faster than private wages.
• Women working for state and local governments earn on average about $500 more per quarter than women in private-industry jobs. That's because overall, the starting salaries for women in public and private jobs are similar, and salaries for women in public-sector jobs grow faster as they spend time in their jobs.
Download Public and Private Sector Earnings in Alaska, prepared for the Alaska Department of Administration, by Mouhcine Guettabi and Andrew Bibler. If you have questions, get in touch with Mouhcine Guettabi at email@example.com or 907-786-5496 or Andrew Bibler at firstname.lastname@example.org or 907-786-5452.
The Alaska Energy Data Gateway is an online database that UAF's Alaska Center for Energy and Power, ISER, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory established several years ago, to give communities across Alaska a broad range of data they can use as they develop and improve their energy systems.
Now, the gateway has had a major upgrade. Users can search by Alaska community for information to help them determine whether specific communities have the financial and technical capacities—and the skilled people—they need to develop sustainable energy systems. A new interactive search tool also makes it easier to find information from across the state. To learn more, check out the press release (PDF, 1MB) or visit the gateway at https://akenergygateway.alaska.edu/.
The Partnerships for Success Project is a five-year project intended to prevent and reduce non-medical use of prescription opioids, as well as use of heroin, among Alaskans ages 12 to 25. The state’s Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) is carrying out the project, working with community coalitions that develop local prevention strategies.
DHSS contracted with ISER’s Center for Behavioral Health Research and Services to evaluate the project. Bridget Hanson, the evaluation director, and Jodi Barnett, the lead project evaluator, talk about their work so far, to establish a baseline for measuring the project’s success over time.