• Safe Landing: A Fiscal Strategy for the 1990s

      Goldsmith, Scott (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 1992)
      Alaska is poised for either a safe landing or a nose dive. Whether we land safely or crash depends on how Alaskans deal with declining oil revenue. Since oil began flowing from the Prudhoe Bay field 15 years ago, Alaska’s government and economy have come to depend on state taxes and royalties from oil production. Oil revenue makes up 85 percent of the state’s general revenue, and it creates 30 percent of Alaskans’ personal income. But North Slope production is now declining as the giant Prudhoe Bay field ages. Luckily, Alaska has the resources it needs to make the difficult transition. This paper outlines a comprehensive but flexible strategy for moving Alaska through the 1990s with a minimum of economic damage and into the next century with a government that is smaller but still able to provide essential services and support a healthy economy.
    • Safe Landing: Charting a Flight Path Through the Clouds

      Goldsmith, Scott (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 1999)
      Everybody’s got an idea about where to find the roughly $1 billion we’ll need to balance the state budget every year from now on. It’s hard to evaluate these proposals, because the budget is complicated—and it’s hard to imagine how much $1 billion really is. This paper looks first at why some popular ideas can’t raise $1 billion a year, although they can certainly help. Then, in the foldout, we try to help Alaskans see through the clouds obscuring the “Safe Landing” strategy, which we first talked about in 1992. This strategy says that dealing with such a big deficit requires using a combination (and there are a number of possible combinations) of budget cuts, windfalls, Permanent Fund earnings, new taxes, and economic development.
    • Salmon Fish Traps in Alaska: An Economic History Perspective

      Colt, Steve (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 1999)
      Salmon return faithfully to their stream of birth and can be efficiently caught by fixed gear. But since the introduction at the turn of the century of fish traps to the emerging Alaska commercial salmon fishery, most territorial residents fought for their abolition even while admitting to their technical efficiency. The new State of Alaska immediately banned traps in 1959. I estimate the economic rents generated by the Alaska salmon traps as they were actually deployed and find that they saved roughly $4 million (1967 dollars) per year, or about 12% of the ex-vessel value of the catch. I also find strong evidence that the fishermen operating from boats earned zero profits throughout the 20th century. Thus the State's ban on fish traps did allow 6,000 additional people to enter the fishery, but did nothing to boost average earnings.
    • Salmon Industry: Twenty-seven Predictions for the Future

      Knapp, Gunnar (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 1998)
      What does the future hold for the salmon industry? The past decade has brought dramatic change. What further changes might we expect in the coming decade, and beyond? This paper was prepared for submission to the Alaska Fisherman's Journal. It is a revised version of a paper prepared originally for a presentation to the Northwest Salmon Canners Association in October of 1997. I have offered a brief discussion of the reasoning underlying each prediction. A far more detailed discussion of the arguments for and against each prediction would be possible--and preferable--but space here does not permit that. A stronger case can be made for some predictions than for others. Keep in mind that these are not predictions for what will happen this year or next year, but rather for changes that are likely to occur gradually over the next decade and beyond.
    • Salmon Markets 1992

      Knapp, Gunnar (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 1992)
      This report was prepared by fisheries specialists from several units of the University of Alaska: the Marine Advisory Program, the Institute of Social and Economic Research, the Alaska Center for International Business, and the University of Alaska Fairbanks Department of Economics. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the Alaska Office of International Trade, the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, and the University of Washington Fisheries Research Institute also contributed articles and information. This work was funded by the University of Alaska's Natural Resources Fund and the Alaska Sea Grant Program.The articles in the report discuss current salmon market conditions. The appendix presents a variety of regularly published market data showing trends over time. We believe this marks the first time such comprehensive material on Alaska salmon market conditions has been published in one place.
    • Salmon Restructuring: Changing Alaska's Salmon Harvesting System: What are the challenges?

      Knapp, Gunnar; Ulmer, Fran (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 2005)
      The Chignik fishing co-op is a cautionary tale about why restructuring in Alaska’s salmon fisheries is so hard and so controversial—and why it’s unlikely to happen until Alaskans clarify their goals for the fisheries and establish ways to achieve those goals. It won’t be easy to make changes in Alaska’s salmon harvesting system. Not everyone will benefit; some people could end up worse off. But the costs of doing nothing are also high. Thousands of Alaskans have already seen severe losses in fishing income and in boat and permit values, and many have had to quit fishing for salmon. Salmon is no longer Alaska’s dominant resource industry. But it remains a mainstay of many communities, and if the industry is to become and remain profitable, we need to face—and find ways of addressing—the complex, difficult issue of restructuring. This summary is based upon a longer paper by the same authors, "Challenges in Restructuring Alaska’s Salmon Fisheries" (2004).
    • School Costs and the Foundation Program

      Berman, Matthew; Larson, Eric (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 1991)
      Alaska's public school system today is a much different and costlier system than it was 20 years ago. This summary provides an overview of an examination undertaken by ISER on behalf of the Alaska Legislature. The aim of this investigation was to assess how the state's Public School Foundation Program could be more equitable for taxpayers and school districts. We studied changes in the major categories of school operating costs over the past two decades. Those costs recur year after year and account for most of total school district spending. They include costs of instruction and pupil support (libraries for instance); general support (administrative functions); and operations and maintenance of school buildings. We did not analyze capital costs, which normally make up a small part of total school costs and are different each year. This summary is based on "Education Equity and Taxpayer Equity: A Reveiw of the Alska Public School Foundation Funding Program" by Matthew Berman and Eric Larson.
    • Sealaska Plaza Wood Pellet Boiler Benefit-Cost and Sensitivity Analysis

      Pathan, Sohrab (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2013-09)
      Executives at Sealaska Corporation's headquarters, Sealaska Plaza, in Juneau decided to replace existing oil fired boilers with a wood pellet boiler for heating as a part of the Corporation's green initiative.1 By introducing green energy, the Corporation hopes to reduce its carbon footprint, encourage other business entities in Southeast Alaska to use green energy, help to establish a local wood pellet industry in Southeast Alaska, increase local employment, and reduce the impacts of oil price volatility. Currently there is no wood pellet industry in southeast Alaska and Sealaska Corporation is assuming the leading role to develop the demand for wood pellets by promoting this renewable technology and using the Corporation's building as a demonstration location. The wood pellet boiler that the Sealaska Plaza building is using to heat the building is a Viessmann PYROT boiler that is powered by KÖB biomass technology. The publicly visible silo in front of the Corporation’s headquarters in downtown Juneau is an indication that this is a signature project to increase the public awareness about biomass technology. This paper provides a technical summary of benefit-cost ratios and sensitivity analyses of the biomass project given different fuel price projections and estimates of the social costs of carbon. The costs driving the benefit-cost ratios of this 20-year project are calculated by using the data provided by the Sealaska Corporation. In order to conduct these analyses, some economic assumptions were made and are presented below.
    • Second COVID-19 Panel Survey in the Municipality of Anchorage: Highlights

      Garcia, Gabriel; Mapaye, Joy; Wyck, Rebecca; Cueva, Katie; Snyder, Elizabeth; Meyer, Jennifer; Miller, Jenny; Hennessy, Thomas (2020-06-19)
    • Shareholder Employment at Red Dog Mine

      Haley, Sharman; Fisher, David (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2012-04)
      Under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971, Iñupiat of northwest Alaska organized as shareholders in the NANA1 Regional Corporation, Inc., and received title to 2,258,836 acres, including rights to the rich Red Dog zinc deposit. In 1982, NANA signed a joint-venture agreement with Teck2 to develop the mine, including provisions for preferential hire for qualified NANA shareholders. The agreement aimed for 100% shareholder hire by 2001. As of 2010, Teck had 220 NANA shareholders in full-time employment, which is 53 percent of the workforce. Other mines around the world have similar indigenous or local hire agreements with mixed success. The Voisey’s Bay mine sets the high mark for Canada with an Aboriginal hire rate of 54 percent (AETG 2008), followed by Ekati diamond mine at 50 percent (BHP Billiton 2011). So the track record for indigenous employment at Red Dog is high by global standards, although it falls short of NANA and Teck’s goal. What are the continuing barriers to increasing shareholder hire, retention and promotion?
    • A short brief on the regional dimensions of the Alaska recession

      Guettabi, Mouhcine (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2/7/2018)
      We provide a short update on the Alaska recession by examining its regional dimensions. Specifically, we evaluate the performance of the Alaska boroughs/census areas in each of the last three years and determine which areas have been resilient and which ones continue losing jobs.
    • Short-Run Economic Impacts of Alaska Fiscal Options

      Knapp, Gunnar; Berman, Matthew; Guettabi, Mouhcine (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2016-03-30)
      Today Alaskans are talking about how to close the huge budget deficit the state government is facing, with the oil revenues it has depended on for decades now a small fraction of what they once were. Alaska has had budget deficits for several years, and it has made budget cuts—but it has mainly relied on billions of dollars in savings from the Constitutional Budget Reserve and other funds to cover the deficit. Those savings are dwindling, and the state needs to take measures to close the deficit. An important consideration is how various ways of reducing the deficit might affect Alaska’s economy. This study compares potential short-run economic effects of 11 options the state might take in the next few years to reduce the deficit and that are sustainable over the long term. We looked at economic effects of several types of spending cuts and taxes, as well as reducing the Permanent Fund dividend— the annual cash payment the state makes to all residents—and saving less of Permanent Fund earnings. We’re not advocating or opposing any option: our purpose is to estimate and compare the magnitude of the short-run economic effects of different ways of reducing the deficit. Broadly speaking: • Different ways of collecting money from Alaskans affect those with lower and higher incomes in significantly different ways. • Anything the state does to reduce the deficit will cost the economy jobs and money. But spending some of the Permanent Fund earnings the state currently saves would not have short-run economic effects. Saving less would, however, slow Permanent Fund growth and reduce future earnings. • Because the deficit is so big, the overall economic effects of closing the deficit will also be big.
    • Short-Run Economic Impacts of Alaska Fiscal Options

      Knapp, Funnar; Guettabi, Mouhcne; Berman, Matthew (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 3/1/2016)
    • A simple decomposition of Alaska's labor force participation rate

      Guettabi, Mouhcine (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 11/25/2019)
      In Alaska, similar to the rest of the country, the share of people working or seeking employment started declining in the early 2000's. The implications for lower labor force participation rates are numerous and have consequences on the tax base, government revenues, and economic growth. From 2000 to 2010, we find Alaska's labor force declined from 73.5 to 69.6% with more than 90% of the decline attributed to demographic shifts. From 2010 to 2018, the labor force participate rate went from 69.6 to 65% but the reasons for the decline were due to both behavioral adjustments (44.6%) and demographic shifts (55.3%). Lastly, we show that using the unemployment rate as a metric of the economy's health during times of significant labor force change can be misleading.
    • Simple Fiscal Outlook Model for Rural Alaska Communities

      Colt, Steve (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 1999)
      The Northwest Arctic Borough (NAB) faces a growing population and increased demands for education and public services. At the request of the Assembly, I have prepared a fiscal planning model that can be used to explore what might happen to the Borough's revenues and expenses over the next 20 years. The model looks at both general government and the NAB School District (NABSD). The model allows us to ask "what if....?" questions and get quick answers about how things might change. These cases demonstrate that if the Borough issues new debt that is considered to be "in lieu" of existing cash contributions to the School District for deferred maintenance, then it can cause a large decrease in foundation funding to the School District and would require significant additional school budget cuts. (The case presented already assumes continual tightening of the instruction budget.) Obviously there are variations on the assumptions presented here for Case 3 (new bonds) that would improve the foundation funding amounts. However the overall picture that seems to emerge is that without a continuation of local revenues passed through to the School District, the new bonds are not fiscally sustainable.
    • Snapshot of Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance in Alaska

      Guettabi, Mouhcine; Frazier, Rosyland; Knapp, Gunnar (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2014-09)
    • Snapshot: The Home Energy Rebate Program

      Goldsmith, Oliver Scott; Pathan, Sohrab; Wiltse, Nathan (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2012-05)
      Alaska’s state government has spent an estimated $110 million since 2008 for better insulation, new furnaces, and other retrofits for roughly 16,500 homeowners—10% of all homeowners statewide.1 That spending was under the Home Energy Rebate Program, which rebates homeowners part of what they spend to make their houses more energy-efficient and less expensive to heat.2 The state legislature established the current program in 2008, as energy prices were spiking. The Alaska Housing Finance Corporation (AHFC) administers it, and the Institute of Social and Economic Research and the Cold Climate Housing Research Center did this analysis for AHFC, assessing the broad program effects from April 2008 through September 2011. Changes in fuel use and heating costs reported here are estimates from AHFC’s energy-rating software; figures based on actual household heating bills aren’t currently available. The software uses house characteristics and location-specific information on weather and other factors to produce the estimates—but remember they are estimates.3
    • Social Indicators for Arctic Mining

      Haley, Sharman; Szymoniak, Nick; Klick, Matthew; Crow, Andrew; Schwoerer, Tobias (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2011-05)
      This paper reviews and assesses the state of the data to describe and monitor mining trends in the pan-Arctic. It constructs a mining index and discusses its value as a social impact indicator and discusses drivers of change in Arctic mining. The widely available measures of mineral production and value are poor proxies for economic effects on Arctic communities. Trends in mining activity can be characterized as stasis or decline in mature regions of the Arctic, with strong growth in the frontier regions. World prices and the availability of large, undiscovered and untapped resources with favorable access and low political risk are the biggest drivers for Arctic mining, while climate change is a minor and locally variable factor. Historical data on mineral production and value is unavailable in electronic format for much of the Arctic, specifically Scandinavia and Russia; completing the historical record back to 1980 will require work with paper archives. The most critically needed improvement in data collection and reporting is to develop comparable measures of employment: the eight Arctic countries each use different definitions of employment, and different methodologies to collect the data. Furthermore, many countries do not report employment by county and industry, so the Arctic share of mining employment cannot be identified. More work needs to be done to develop indicator measures for ecosystem service flows. More work also needs to be done developing conceptual models of effects of mining activities on fate control, cultural continuity and ties to nature for local Arctic communities.
    • Socioeconomic Impacts of Potential Wishbone Hill Coal Mining Activity

      Colt, Steve; Schwörer, Tobias (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2010-06-11)
      The purpose of this study is to assess some of the significant socioeconomic effects of potential coal mining activity at Wishbone Hill. The analysis scenario assumes a 16-year period of startup and mine production using two known deposits that are currently permitted by the State of Alaska for mineral exploration. “Mine Area 1” would be mined during years 2-7 and “Mine Area 2” would be mined during years 8-16. Mining would only take place at one of these areas during any given time. We considered four kinds of effects: Jobs and income, fiscal impacts, property values, and traffic.
    • Socioeconomic Review of Alaska's Bristol Bay Region

      Lowe, Marie (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 2006)
      This report provides a “desktop” socioeconomic and sociocultural review of the Bristol Bay Region prepared for the North Star Group by the Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER) at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Using secondary sources, the report characterizes the local population and its history by examining events that have influenced social change and how locals have adapted to that change. It reviews current social and economic issues in the region to provide a context for potential future mining development. Part 1 presents a regional overview with a description of Bristol Bay’s cultural history, demography, economy, institutions, and development context. Part 2 provides a more detailed overview of Bristol Bay’s sub-regions, accompanied by statistics about participation in subsistence activities, commercial fishing and other employment, and local use of public assistance.