Most Alaskans feel economy is holding steady, survey shows

SURVEY: Longer-term residents show less faith in family budget.

May 19, 2010 

Fewer than one-third of Alaskans say the state economy is in "good" shape or getting better, while most think it's simply staying the same.

Those findings are among the results of a new quarterly survey aimed at gauging how Alaska residents feel about the economy in their state and their hometowns -- not to mention their own bank accounts.

The Alaska economy entered a mild recession about a year ago, with some parts of the state harder hit than others, and some industries, such as construction and lodging, feeling more pain than others, such as health care.

Launched by Northern Economics, an Anchorage research firm, the first Alaska Confidence Review was conducted over 10 days in early April, said Jonathan King, an owner of the firm.

The statewide phone survey of 750 people found:

• Two-thirds of those surveyed said the economy in their local community is staying the same -- not getting better or worse. About 15 percent said their hometown economy is deteriorating.

• People living in cities are more confident in their hometown's economy than those who live in rural Alaska.

• More than 60 percent of respondents rated their family's financial situation as "secure" or "very secure."

• People who have lived in Alaska for 30 years or more were slightly less confident about their hometown economy, the state economy and their own finances than newer arrivals to the state.

Northern Economics plans to repeat the survey every three months to see how Alaskans' attitudes change in the coming years.

Like national consumer confidence surveys, the Alaska report can gauge how likely people might be to spend money, King said.

If people's faith in their personal finances declines, for example, retailers might take it as a sign to order less inventory. The numbers can also provide a signal to legislators and policy-makers, he said. "It's an indirect indicator of whether or not you feel the state is headed in the right direction."

The survey is being conducted by Ivan Moore Research and Northwest Strategies, King said.

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