• 2009 Alaska Health Workforce Vacancy Study

      Landon, Beth; Doucette, Sanna; Frazier, Rosyland; Wilson, Meghan; Silver, Darla; Hill, Alexandra; Sanders, Kate; Sharp, Suzanne; Johnson, Kristin; DeRoche, Patricia; et al. (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2009-12)
      Alaska continues to experience health professional shortages. The state has long had a deficient “supply side” characterized by insufficient numbers of key health workers whose recruitment, retention, and training have been impeded by Alaska’s remoteness, harsh climate, rural isolation, low population density, and scarce training resources. Alaska is the only state without a pharmacy school and lacks its own dental and physical therapy schools as well. Health professional shortages can be decreased through the start of new training programs, the expansion of existing programs, and the improvement of the effectiveness of recruitment and retention efforts. However, strategic planning and the execution of such programs require valid and accurate data. To this end, stakeholders such as the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority (AMHTA) and Alaskan's For Access to Health Care (ACCESS), along with schools and departments within the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA), funded the Alaska Center for Rural Health-Alaska’s AHEC (ACRH) and the Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER) to conduct a comprehensive health workforce study during winter and spring of 2009. This report highlights employers’ needs for employees to fill budgeted positions. This is different from a needs assessment that would take into account population demographics and disease incidence and prevalence. This health workforce study is an assessment of health manpower shortage based on budgeted staff positions and their vacancies in organizations throughout the state. Respondents included part-time positions, which resulted in our counting full-time equivalent (FTE) rather than individuals (“bodies”). In situations where a position was divided among more than one occupation (e.g., Dental Assistant and Billing Clerk), we asked the respondent to count the position under which they considered the position’s “primary occupation.” This was a point-in-time cross-sectional study. Recently filled vacancies or imminent vacancies were not counted. Positions filled by relief/temporary/locum/contract health workers were counted as vacancies only if these workers were temporarily filling a currently vacant, budgeted position. Due to budget and time constraints, we were not able to conduct a trend analysis that is a comparison of this study’s findings and the prior 2007 study. The key questions this study sought to answer were (1) How many budgeted positions, either full- or part-time, existed in organizations providing health services in Alaska? (2) How many of these budgeted positions were currently vacant? (3) What was the vacancy rate? (4) How many of the organizations that employ these occupations hired new graduates of training programs? (5) How many of the currently vacant budgeted positions (#2) could be filled by new graduates of training programs? (6) What were the mean and maximum length of time, expressed in months, that the vacancies have existed? (7) What were the principal, underlying causes of vacancies? The study was designed in consultation with an advisory group that included AMHTA, ACCESS, and UAA. The study targeted 93 health occupations. The unit of analysis was the employment site by organization type, which allowed for the allocation of positions and vacancies by geographic region. For each employer, we identified the staff person most knowledgeable about hiring and vacancies. In large organizations this meant that one employer might provide information about multiple sites and organization types; smaller employers were responsible for only a single site.
    • Alaska Coastal Community Youth and the Future

      Lowe, Marie E.; Wilson, Meghan; Robyn, Miller; Sanders, Kate (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2012-06)
    • Alaska Community Fuel Use

      Saylor, Ben; Wilson, Meghan; Szymoniak, Nick; Fay, Ginny; Colt, Steve (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2008-10)
      The goal of this project was to estimate the amount of fuel used for space heating and electricity production by communities in Alaska. No comprehensive Alaska fuel use data exist at the community level. Community fuel consumption by type of fuel and end use is needed to estimate the potential economic benefits from demand- and supply-side investments in fuel use reduction projects. These investments include weatherization and housing stock improvements; improved lighting, appliance and space heating efficiencies; waste heat capture; electric interties, and alternative energy supply options such as wind and hydroelectric generation. Ultimately the Alaska Energy Authority (AEA) and others can use this information to rank and select a suite of projects that provide the largest gains in fuel reductions at the lowest long-term costs and the highest returns on investment over the life of the projects. Study communities consisted of Power Cost Equalization (PCE) eligible communities. Communities in the North Slope Borough were excluded because fuel subsidies offered by the borough result in different patterns of energy use by households.
    • Components of Delivered Fuel Prices in Alaska

      Wilson, Meghan; Saylor, Ben; Szymoniak, Nick; Colt, Steve; Fay, Ginny (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2008-06)
      This is a systematic analysis of components of delivered fuel prices in Alaska. Data for the analysis include limited publicly available Alaska fuel prices (fall 2007 prices), as well as information the authors gathered from extensive interviews with fuel retailers and transporters, communities, and agencies. We identify the individual components of delivered fuel costs—including world price of crude oil, refining costs, transportation costs, storage and distribution costs, taxes and financing costs—and investigate how these factors influence the final retail prices of home heating fuel and gasoline. Transportation, storage, and distribution costs appear to be the most variable factors driving the large retail fuel price differentials among Alaska communities. Therefore, we investigate how factors such as seasonal icing, the number of fuel transfers enroute to specific communities, local storage and delivery infrastructure, marine and river characteristics, and distance from refineries or fuel hubs influence fuel prices. We did an in-depth analysis of how those factors influence prices in ten case study communities around the state—Allakaket/Alatna, Angoon, Bethel, Chitina, False Pass, Fort Yukon, Lime Village, Mountain Village, Unalakleet, and Yakutat. Together, the quantitative data and information on Alaska fuel logistics provide a comprehensive analysis of Alaska’s fuel prices.
    • Dollars of Difference: What Affects Fuel Prices Around Alaska?

      Wilson, Meghan; Saylor, Ben; Szymoniak, Nick; Colt, Steve; Fay, Ginny (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2008-05)
      The spike in oil prices has hit rural Alaskans especially hard, because they rely mostly on fuel oil for heating. But some rural residents are paying much more than others—at times 100% more. The Alaska Energy Authority asked ISER to analyze what determines the prices rural households pay for fuel oil and gasoline. The agency hopes this research can help identify possible ways of holding down fuel prices in the future. In this summary we report only fuel oil prices, but the full report (see back page) also includes gasoline prices. We studied 10 communities that reflect, as much as possible, the forces driving fuel prices. We collected information in November 2007, and fuel prices have gone up a lot since then. Crude oil sold for $120 a barrel in mid-May, up from about $80 in fall 2007.
    • New Students in the Anchorage School District: Where Are They From?

      Lowe, Marie E.; DeRoche, Patricia; Sharp, Suzanne; Wilson, Meghan (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2009-11)
      In September 2008, the superintendent of the Anchorage School District and the mayor of Anchorage sent a letter to the governor of Alaska, reporting what they thought might be an influx of students into Anchorage from rural communities. Enrollment in the school district was higher than expected, and it coincided with the largest-ever Alaska Permanent Fund dividend and with a one-time payment of $1,200 the state made per person, to help offset high energy costs. Researchers at the Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER) at UAA have a longstanding interest in migration patterns in Alaska and the Arctic, and they saw the increased enrollment in Anchorage schools as a potential opportunity to better understand: • If rural Alaskans are moving to Anchorage • Where they are coming from • Why they are moving So with the cooperation of the Anchorage School District, ISER conducted a survey of the parents or guardians of students who had enrolled in Anchorage in the 2007-2008 or 2008-2009 school years and who had transferred in from other Alaska school districts. Besides finding out where students were coming from—and why—another purpose of the study was to provide the Anchorage School District and the Municipality of Anchorage with information about what they could do to help students and families who are new to the city. To our knowledge, this may be the first survey ever conducted to find out why people move to Anchorage from other areas of Alaska.
    • Study of the Components of Delivered Fuel Costs in Alaska: January 2009 Update

      Fay, Ginny; Saylor, Ben; Szymoniak, Nick; Wilson, Meghan; Colt, Steve (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2009-01)
      This is an update of our previous report titled “Components of Delivered Fuel Prices in Alaska.”1 We provide more recent data on actual fuel prices in ten rural communities that we first examined in fall 2007. Rural communities across Alaska face extremely high fuel prices. People in these remote, cold places need large quantities of fuel for heat, electricity, and transportation. The estimated household cost for energy use in remote rural Alaska has increased significantly since 2000—increasing from approximately 16% of total household income to 47% in 2008 for the lowest income households. It is a higher portion of income for all income levels in remote rural Alaska as compared to Anchorage.2 In addition to the high price of fuel in rural Alaska, villages and communities have high unemployment rates, limited local economic bases, and local governments that are struggling to provide basic services to residents and businesses.3 A 2008 report done by the Alaska Division of Community Advocacy stated that the price of gasoline in 100 Alaska communities ranged from $2.75 (Fairbanks) to $9.00 (Arctic Village) per gallon with a mean of $5.80.4 In many areas of Alaska, transporting bulk fuel by air, barge, truck or a combination of these methods increases the price of fuel, most of which must be purchased prior to “freeze up” in cold winter months in order to allow time for delivery to remote villages. High remote rural fuel prices appear to be the result of a number of factors. These include high transportation costs to remote locations, limited and costly storage, small market size, and the financing costs associated with holding large inventories. The main purpose of this research is to identify the components of the cost of delivered fuel across rural Alaska. By understanding these cost components, it may be possible to identify opportunities to address them and reduce the overall cost of fuel.