Alaska rental survey complete, personal consumption spening calculated for first time

    Personal consumption spending in Alaska has been calculated for the very first time. Also featured in the August edition of Alaska Economic Trends was the yearly Alaska rental survey.

    Personal consumption spending in Alaska has been calculated for the very first time.

    That was highlighted in an article in the August edition of Alaska Economic Trends published by the State Department of Labor and Workforce Development..

    The article was discussed with its author on Action Line last week.

    Economist Neal Fried was asked about the bottom line figure the federal government came up with in its calculation for Alaska.

    "This is a brand new figure that's never been figured out before of how much we consume, or what we spend on our consumption. The bottom line figure for 2014 was $34 billion spent on personal consumption each year."

    We asked how Alaska ranks among the other states.

    "We do pretty well, actually. We rank 4th in the country at $42,200 a year."

    Massachusetts is first at  $48,020.  North Dakota is second at $47,739. Third is New Hampshire at $46,633.

    The national average is $37,196.

    "Prior to this, the Bureau of Economic Analysis had done this at the national level, and they decided that maybe this would be an important and useful statistic to produce at a state-wide level."

    Also featured in the August edition of Alaska Economic Trends was the yearly Alaska rental survey.

    Economist Karinne Wiebold authored the article.

    "We've been conducting an annual study every March since the early 90's. We contact about 5,000 landlords around the state to gather information. This last year was kind of interesting; we didn't really change much from the year before. We went up $9 in the average rent including utilities, bringing us to $1,238. That's a less than 1% increase."

    She was asked about the average rents in various locations.

    "In Anchorage, the average rent was $1,259. In Juneau, it was $1,333. Our friends in Ketchikan were jumping in at $1,122; they come kind of on the lower end of our rent spread."

    The average rent in Sitka was $1,163. The highest rent was on Kodiak Island at $1,448.

    And there was this information on vacancy rates.

    "Statewide, the vacancy rate has gone down. It was at about 6.7%, and we're at 5.8% this year. Anchorage and Juneau are two very tight markets. Anchorage is at 3.8% this year, and Juneau was at 3.3%. When we look at Ketchikan, the vacancy rate is much higher at 9.3%. Ketchikan has historically had a higher vacancy rate between 8% and 12% over the years. Sitka is also a bit higher than the state average at 8.3%. Fairbanks is the highest at a little over 11% this year. In 2015, they were at 16%."

    Wiebold also talked about the Rental Affordability Index they use.

    "What it does is takes the average income for an area and the area's average rent, and then determines how many paychecks it would take to pay the average rent. Statewide, we're pretty much in balance with 1.01 paychecks per month's rent. In Anchorage, it's actually a very even 1. In Juneau, we're a bit higher; it takes 1.7 paychecks for the avarega apartment. "

    Wiebold says one in three households in Alaska amounts to about 92,000 households.

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