• Understanding Alaska's Remote Rural Economy

      Goldsmith, Scott (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 2008)
      In the big, remote stretches of northern and western Alaska, many households keep themselves going with a mix of cash, subsistence, sharing, and other non-cash trading. That’s a world away from the state’s urban economy, and under standard measures like income, the remote rural economy lags far behind. Over the years there have been many efforts to improve the remote rural economy—but there’s a lot we don’t know about it. Standard economic measures don’t capture all the activity in an economy where subsistence, sharing, and non-cash trading play important parts. Some kinds of data don’t even exist. But to develop effective strategies, Alaskans need to understand the economic realities of the remote region. This paper is an overview of the remote economy, based on published data. It’s at best an approximation, because the data are so limited. Still, it’s a first step—and it highlights the many gaps in information. Stretching from the North Slope to the Alaska Peninsula, the remote region covers 395,000 square miles and is large enough to hold Japan, Germany, and Great Britain. Alaska Natives, the region’s aboriginal people, still make up most of the population—although thousands have moved to urban areas in recent times. The 60,500 residents live in five regional centers and about 150 small communities.