August 2014 Trends - Alaska Dept Of Labor

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Sean Parnell, GovernorDianne Blumer, CommissionerAugust 2014Volume 34Number 8Dan RobinsonChief, Research and AnalysisISSN 0160-3345Sara WhitneyTo contact Trends authors or request a freeelectronic or print subscription, e-mail or call (907) 465-4500. Trends ison the Web at Economic Trends is funded by theEmployment Security Division of theAlaska Department of Laborand Workforce Development.Alaska Economic Trends is printed anddistributed by Assets, Inc., a vocationaltraining and employment program, at a cost of 1.37 per copy.Material in this publication is publicinformation, and with appropriate credit maybe reproduced without permission.On the cover: Log cabin on the Chena River inFairbanks. Photo by Flickr user wgossettFlickr license: page 4:Woman at Creamer’s Field inFairbanks. Photo by Stephen Cysewski,wanderinginfairbanks.comSam DapcevichCover ArtistFairbanks’ Housing Market4Renting and buying in Alaska’s second-largest cityKetchikan’s Fluid Economy10Alaska’s gateway city, from mining and timberto fishing and tourismUnemployment Among the YoungCharacteristics of Alaska’s youngest workersAugust AuthorsKarinne Wiebold, aDepartment of Laboreconomist in Juneau,specializes in housingmarket research.To reach her, call(907) 465-6039 ore-mail her at Bell, a Department of Laboreconomist in Juneau,specializes in the employment and wagesof the Southeast andSouthwest economicregions. To reach him,call (907) 465-6037 ore-mail him at ECONOMIC TRENDSNeal Fried, a Department of Laboreconomist in Anchorage, specializes in theAnchorage/Mat-Suregion’s employment,wages, and the costof living. To reachhim, call (907) 2694861 or e-mail him 201415

Projects focus on statewide access to affordable energyFairbanks residents are used to dealing with Haida Energy is a joint venture of the Haidaextremes, from short, frigid winter days to Corp. and Alaska Power and Telephone Co.Completion of the plant is slated for Junemidnight sun in the summer.2016.Housing in Alaska’s second-largest cityAlaska LNGalso comes with some unique challenges.A larger-than-average number of Fairbanksresidents live without some of the basicsThe Alaska LNG Project has reached anmany Americans take for granted, such asother significant milestone by submittingcomplete kitchen and plumbing application to the U.S. Department ofFor some it’s a lifestyle choice, but theEnergy to export up to 20 million metriccity’s high residential utility costs — thetons of liquefied natural gas annually,second-highest American city in one study which is about 10 times the amount of— can be a hardship.natural gas Alaskans use annually.By Dianne Blumer,CommissionerThe Parnell Administration has focused onprojects across the state to ensure all Alaskans will have access to affordable energy.AIDEA InvestmentsFollow the AlaskaDepartment of Labor andWorkforce Development onFacebook ( and Twitter( the latest news aboutjobs, workplace safety, andworkforce development.The Interior Energy Project that will truckliquefied natural gas to the Fairbanks area,signed into law by Gov. Sean Parnell inMay 2013, got a boost when the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authorityrecently approved 23.1 million in loans toFairbanks gas utilities to help advance natural gas distribution systems.The Interior Energy Project will help bringdown energy costs in the short term andbuild the infrastructure needed to takeadvantage of a future Alaska gasline. Thetarget for first gas is summer 2016.The application is a fundamental step toward commercializing North Slope naturalgas, which would provide Alaska’s gas toAlaskans and to markets beyond.The project, which is now in the preliminary engineering and design phase, wouldcreate up to 15,000 jobs during peak construction and about 1,000 long-term jobs.Alaska RefineriesOn July 29, Gov. Parnell signed legislationhe sponsored that provides incentives tohelp keep Alaska’s refineries healthy.Alaska refineries employ hundreds of Alaskans, producing gasoline, diesel, commercial and military jet fuel, home heating fuels, and kerosene. In addition to our fellowAIDEA is also investing 50 million in the Alaskans, the refined products go to theU.S. Department of Defense, the AlaskaNorth Slope Mustang Field processing facility. The 200 million-plus facility will be Railroad, commercial airlines, and AlyeskaPipeline Service Company.operated by Brooks Range Petroleum andowned by AIDEA and CES Oil.The governor’s bill also extends the state’sReynolds Creek Hydropower contract with Tesoro, the owner and operator of the Kenai refinery, for the continuedThe Alaska Energy Authority has approved sale of royalty oil.a 20 million loan to Haida Energy Inc. toTo prepare for these projects and other opconstruct a hydropower plant on Prince ofportunities, we are aligning education andWales Island. Reynolds Creek would suptraining resources to create new pathwaysply power to the island’s residents, whocurrently depend on diesel-generated pow- of opportunity for Alaska employers andworkers, especially young, at a significantly reduced cost.AUGUST 2014ALASKA ECONOMIC TRENDS3

By KARINNE WIEBOLDFairbanks’ Housing MarketRenting and buyingin Alaska’s second-largest cityWhen entrepreneur E.T. Barnette wasunceremoniously dumped on the banksof the Chena River in late summer overa century ago, it would have been impossibleto foresee that the second-largest city in Alaskawould form where he landed after a forced detour.1The miners, who had recently found a gold-richstream and were preparing for a nearly 200-mile2Most Homes Built in ’70s and ’80sFairbanks, 2008 to 2012Fairbanks housing mix, 2008-12Duplex5%Fueled by gold rush fever and en route to Tanacrossto establish a trading post, Barnette was thwartedby river water too low to navigate and the shadowof fall hanging over his journey. After pushing thesteamboat captain as far as he could, Barnette foundhimself hundreds of miles from his destination witha long winter ahead in the Tanana Valley.From a distant hilltop, miner Felix Pedro and hiscompanion watched as the steamboat attempted totravel first up the Tanana River and then the Chenabefore leaving Barnette, his men, and his provisions on the banks of the Chena.Mainly le4%Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey2008-2012trek to Circle to restock their supplies, jumpedon the opportunity to resupply close to their newclaim. The discovery of gold in the Tanana Hills3Most 3 or Fewer BedroomsFairbanks housing, 2008 to 201230%25%3 bedrooms35.0%20%4 bedrooms12.5%15%10%2 bedrooms27.7%5%0%1 bedroom16.8%5 bedrooms3.3%No bedroom4.8%19391940 19501960 19701980199020002010or earlier to 1949 to 1959 to 1969 to 1979 to 1989 to 1999 to 2009 or laterSource: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey 2008-20124-2012 SurveySource: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community2008-2012ALASKA ECONOMIC TRENDSAUGUST 2014

At left, the author sits in front ofher “dry” cabin. Cabins withoutrunning water are more commonin Fairbanks than in Alaskaas a whole or nationwide. Asshown in Exhibit 4, 6.1 percentof Fairbanks homes didn’t havecomplete indoor plumbingbetween 2008 and 2012.Photo by Karinne WieboldResidents of these dry cabinsrely on outhouses, like the onebelow at Chena Hot Springs.Photo by Rosie Rosenbergersealed the deal, and Barnette established his trading post on the banks of the Chena River, plantingthe seeds for the Golden Heart City.Today, the communities of Fairbanks, North Pole,Ester, Fox, College, Salcha, and Two Rivers alongwith the surrounding area and military installations at Fort Wainwright and Eielson Air ForceBase make up the Fairbanks North Star Borough.Each community has its own character, but for thisarticle, references to Fairbanks include the entireborough.Life in Fairbanks and the surrounding communities is distinct in many ways from other parts ofAlaska, and housing is one colorful piece in themosaic of life in the Interior.4Roughing It In FairbanksHomes lacking amenities, 2008 to 2012Lacking complete plumbingLacking complete Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey 2008-2012A look at the area’s structuresstock was built. (See Exhibit 2.)According to the most recent U.S. Census estimates, the Fairbanks North Star Borough has35,740 occupied housing units, 60 percent owneroccupied and 40 percent rented.After weathering a major flood in 1967, Fairbanksflourished in the economic boom of the pipelineconstruction from 1974 to 1977 and the continuingoilfield development.More than seven out of 10 are single-familyhomes. Apartments and condos together make up19 percent, duplexes 5 percent, and mobile homesthe remaining 4 percent. (See Exhibit 1.)Although three-bedroom homes are the most common size, about half the homes in Fairbanks haveno more than two bedrooms. (See Exhibit 3.) Fairbanks has more than twice the national percentage of homes with no bedrooms, such as studioapartments and one-room cabins. However, it hasrelatively fewer than the state as a whole, at 4.8percent and 5.5 percent respectively.Compared to the rest of the U.S., Fairbanks hasrelatively young housing. The 1970s and ’80swere boom years when half of Fairbanks’ housingAUGUST 2014ALASKA ECONOMIC TRENDS5

56Oil Heat Most CommonFairbanks, 2008 to 2012When They Moved InFairbanks, current home, 2008-121990-199914% ŽĂů ϭ͘ϳйtŽŽĚ ϲ͘ϲй&ƵĞů Žŝů Žƌ ŬĞƌŽƐĞŶĞ ϳϳ͘ϬйKƚŚĞƌ ĨƵĞů ϭ͘ϬйEŽŶĞ ƌĞƉŽƌƚĞĚ Ϭ͘ϲйhƟůŝƚLJ ŐĂƐ ϱ͘ϮйSource: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey2008-2012Living without some amenitiesFairbanks stands out for its relative lack of amenities, with nearly eight times the national averageof homes lacking complete plumbing or kitchens.(See Exhibit 4.) A significant part of the population lives without these typical creature comfortsbecause of lifestyle choices (the cabin experience),financial choices (dry cabins are cheaper), limitedaccess to municipal water, and the environmentalconsiderations of drilling household wells.The census estimates that nearly 2,200 Fairbankshomes lack complete plumbing and almost 1,800don’t have a complete kitchen.Unlike the state as a whole, which has seen a largeFairbanks Has More RentersVersus Alaska and the U.S., 1990 to 2010Fairbanks North Star 00033.8%41.2%36.9%2010Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 1990, 2000, and 2010 censuses61969 or earlier 1%2010or later18%ůĞĐƚƌŝĐŝƚLJ ϲ͘ϰй71970-1979 5%2000-200954% ŽƩůĞĚ͕ ƚĂŶŬ͕ Žƌ W ŐĂƐ ϭ͘ϱйSource: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey2008-20121980-19898%34.9%decline in the percentage of people living withoutcomplete plumbing from 13.8 percent in 1970 to4.7 percent now, the percentage hasn’t changedmuch for Fairbanks. In 1970, 6.5 percent of Fairbanks residents lived in homes without completeplumbing, just slightly higher than the current 6.1percent.Utilities are notoriously highWhen it comes to heating their homes, more thanthree-quarters in the Fairbanks area use oil. (SeeExhibit 5.) While natural gas and electricity arealso common around the state, wood is the secondmost common heat source in Fairbanks, with residents three times more likely to burn wood thanthe national average.No conversation on housing is complete withoutlooking at utilities, and Fairbanks’ utility expensesare notoriously high, recently ranking secondbehind Hilo, Hawaii, in a national cost-of-livingindex we discussed in July Trends.Residential electricity is 20.9 cents per kilowatthour, nearly 70 percent higher than the nationalaverage of 12.3 cents per kWh and well over Anchorage’s 15.5 cents.Heating oil is about the same price in Fairbanksas the national average — 4.09 per gallon versus 4.07, as of January — but the kicker is quantity.Long, cold winters in the Interior require considerable fuel consumption; a furnace has to heat ahome by 100 degrees to raise the indoor temperature to 65 when it’s -35 outside.ALASKA ECONOMIC TRENDSAUGUST 2014

According to a 2010 Department of EnvironmentalConservation home heating survey, homes in Fairbanks using central oil furnaces burn an averageof 1,135 gallons a year. At 2014 fuel prices, thatworks out to 4,642 annually, or 388 per month.8Owner Households Are LargerFairbanks, 2008 to 2012Owner38%Many households in Fairbanks don’t operate theirfurnaces May through August, which leaves thecost burden on the other eight months of use at awhopping 581 per month average.In terms of the cost per gallon, though, it could beworse. The average statewide price of heating fuelin January was considerably higher at 5.77 pergallon.Most moved in fairly recentlySeven out of 10 borough residents moved intotheir current home after 2000, with more thanhalf moving in between 2000 and 2009. (SeeExhibit 6.)34%Renter30%20%17%14% 14% 14%7% 5%1 person2 people3 people4 people5 people3% 2%2% 1%6 people7 peopleSource: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey 2008-20129Renters Tend to Be YoungerFairbanks, 2008 to 2012OwnerRenter34%Fairbanks has a higher percentage than the stateas a whole who moved to their current home after2000 — 72 percent compared to 68 percent —likely a result of the military, university students,and more renters buying their own homes in theearly part of that decade. According to the 2010Census, the percentage of homeowners increasedfrom 54 percent in 2000 to 58.8 percent in 2010.26%19%14%18%20%13%16%14%11%6%4%2%15 to 24years25 to 34years35 to 44years45 to 54years55 to 59years60 to 64yearsSource: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey 2008-2012Renter, owner differencesPeople are more likely to rent in Fairbanks thanstatewide or nationwide, but the gap is narrowing.households averaged 2.75. One in three renterhouseholds was a single person compared to onein five owner households.At the time of the 1960 Census, the first one available, Fairbanks was 65 percent renter-occupied.The percentage fell to 51 percent by 1990, atwhich time Fairbanks had proportionally morerenters than Alaska as a whole by 7.1 percentagepoints and more than the nation by 15.2 percentage points. By 2010, Fairbanks led by just 4.3 and6.3 percentage points respectively. (See Exhibit 7.)The most typical household size for renters is single-person, and for owners it’s two-person — butthe majority of both household types have no morethan two people (58 percent of owner householdsand 64 percent of renters). These sizes mirror stateand national figures.The prevalence of renting in Fairbanks is likelydue in part to the relatively young and mobilemilitary and university populations.Renters also tend to be younger, with Fairbankshouseholders under age 35 making up 53 percentof all renters but only 16 percent of owners. (SeeExhibit 9.)Renters tend to have smaller households thanowners. (See Exhibit 8.) According to the mostrecent census estimates for the Fairbanks area,renter households averaged 2.45 people and ownerRenters in Fairbanks are considerably youngerthan in Alaska as a whole, where 43 percent ofrenters are under age 35, and dramatically youngerthan in the U.S., where 37 percent are under 35.AUGUST 2014ALASKA ECONOMIC TRENDS74%65 years

10Single-Family vs. Apartment RentsFairbanks, 2004 to 2014Single-family 2,000 1,800 1,600 1,400 1,200 1,000 800 600 400 200 02004For a bit of historical perspective, consider that according to the 1970 Census,median1 contract rent was 205, whichwhen adjusted for inflation equals 1,059 in 2013 dollars. According to ourannual rental survey, the median contract rent in 2013 was 995, which was6 percent lower than 1970’s inflation-adjusted rent. Though rents have fluctuatedover the last 40 years, this peek into thepast suggests what we pay in rent hasn’treally changed as much as it may 2014Higher vacanciesNote: Rents are adjusted to include utilities.Source: Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Research and Analysis Section11Average Single-Family Sales Prices1993 to 2013 350,000 300,000Alaska 250,000Fairbanks 200,000Vacancy took an upward swing in 2014 to 15.6percent, and though the reasons for the jumparen’t clear, military movements were a likelyfactor.U.S. 150,000 100,000 50,0000Fairbanks tends to have higher-than-average vacancy rates, at 9.9 percent from2004 to 2014 compared to the surveyaverage of 6.3 percent.93 94 95 96 97 98 99 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 1319 19 19 19 19 19 19 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20Note: Values are in 2013 dollars.Sources: Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Research andAnalysis Section; National Association of RealtorsAverage rent on the riseOur annual statewide rental survey, conducted inMarch each year, showed average rent includingutilities has increased 56 percent since 2004, rising from 783 to 1,224 per month.Average single-family rent has increased 70 percent from 2004, from 1,062 to 1,802. Apartment rent has gone up from an average of 767 to 1,145, a 49 percent rise. (See Exhibit 10.)Over the last 10 years, rent in Fairbanks hasgenerally fallen in the middle of the spread, withcommunities such as Kodiak, Juneau, ValdezCordova, and Anchorage being more expensiveand the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Ketchikan,Kenai, and Wrangell-Petersburg costing less.8According to the U.S. Army, Fort Wainwright’spopulation of active duty personnel and families decreased 5.5 percent from last year, and inMarch 2014 — when the survey took place —400 soldiers deployed to Afghanistan.Home prices on an even keelTo get a good sense of the direction of sale pricesover the last two decades, it’s useful to inflationadjust prices to control for the changing value ofmoney.Sale prices peaked across the nation in 2006 andhave tapered off since. While adjusted sale pricesin Alaska overall and Fairbanks specifically fell,they did not drop as fast or as far as for the nationas a whole. (See Exhibit 11.)In 2007, U.S. home prices began to fall ratherquickly while Alaska’s leveled out. Nationalsingle-family home prices, when adjusted for inflation, fell 24 percent from 2006 to 2013 whileAlaska’s dipped just 5 percent and Fairbanks’ declined by 11 percent.1The U.S. Census Bureau uses median rent rather than averagerent.ALASKA ECONOMIC TRENDSAUGUST 2014

Single-family home prices have gone up more inFairbanks and the state over the last two decadesthan in the entire U.S., where adjusted housingprices in 2013 were only 12 percent higher thanthey were in 1993. In Fairbanks, the adjusted increase was 27 percent, and for Alaska it was 37percent.12Affordability of Renting vs. BuyingFairbanks, 2003 to 2013Index value1.9 ĞƐƐ ĂīŽƌĚĂďůĞ1.71.5Affordability of renting, buyingHousing affordability indexes measure the numberof average incomes required to afford the average rent or mortgage payment, determined by thedynamic relationship between housing costs andan area’s wages. (See the sidebar below for moredetail on this method.)For homebuyers, housing cost incorporates theaverage sale price and interest rate to approximatea monthly mortgage payment, and for renters it’ssimply the average rent.Fairbanks’ rental affordability has been fairly constant over the last decade. The largest differencebetween renting and purchasing was in 2006 and2007, when it would have required an additionalhalf of a second paycheck to buy rather than rent.(See Exhibit 12.)In 2012, it was actually slightly more affordable tobuy than rent. Fairbanks is the only surveyed community to have had that anomaly, although the difference between renting and buying was minor inWƵƌĐŚĂƐŝŶŐ1.3DŽƌĞ 20062007200820092010201120122013Source: Alaska Department of Labor a

2 ALASKA ECONOMIC TRENDS AUGUST 2014 August 2014 Volume 34 Number 8 ISSN 0160-3345 To contact Trends authors or request a free electronic or print subscription, e-mail trends@ or call (907) 465-4500. Trends is on the Web at Alaska Economic Tr

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