Big Lake, Alaska and The Susitna Valley News, Weather, Events, And More

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Thursday, June 22 2017 @ 08:26 AM AKDT

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Alaskans’ Economic Confidence Down

EconomyAlaskans’ economic confidence is mixed, according to the Alaska Confidence Index (ACI). The ACI report released by the Division of Economic Development shows that the overall index fell to 49.2 in the first quarter of 2017, a drop of 2.5 points from the fourth quarter of 2016. The decline was led by a sharp drop in Alaskans’ confidence in their local economies. Confidence in the current and future state economy was also down. However, respondents’ assessments of their personal financial situations remained positive.

“Finding new ways to expand and diversify the state economy is crucial for future stability,” said Britteny CioniHaywood, director of the Division of Economic Development. “There is abundant economic opportunity to be found in Alaska’s natural resources, human capital, and emerging industries.”

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Wasilla Senator launches "Save Your PFD" online petition

EconomySen. Mike Dunleavy, R-Wasilla, has launched an online petition drive to "Save Your PFD." The website is http://saveyourpfd.com/.

From the website: "The Alaska-based Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER) determined that the single most destructive thing for Alaska’s Economy in the short-term was reduction or elimination of the PFD. In spite of this, for political reasons, Governor Walker unilaterally withheld half of your PFD. This is not a political issue; this is an Alaskan issue. Bill Wielechowski is suing the governor for acting beyond his powers, and Mike Dunleavy has pre-filed a bill for the 2017 session to overrule the governor’s actions by issuing the second half of the 2016 check to Alaskans.

Please sign the petition below if you believe you are the best person to decide where the other half of your PFD should be spent."

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Alaska PFD Application is Open Online

EconomyThe 2017 Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend application is available for online filing. Over 25,000 Alaskans have already filed.

Visit http://pfd.alaska.gov/ to begin.

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Examples of state cuts and closures to date

EconomyState Cuts and Closures to Date:

– Department of Commerce Community and Economic Development (DCCED) general fund dollars have been cut by 60 percent from FY15 to FY17.

– Minimal capital energy projects to support affordable power in Alaska’s small communities. Repairing and maintaining rural Alaska’s energy infrastructure is critical to avoiding loss of power, fuel leaks, and contamination. Declining funding for alternative energy, energy efficiency, and renewable energy projects increases reliance on fossil fuels, which leads to energy cost instability for rural communities already facing high energy costs.

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PFD is $1022 for 2016

EconomySeptember 23, 2016 ANCHORAGE – Governor Bill Walker announced the amount of the 2016 Permanent Fund Dividend today in an online video address to Alaskans, recorded at Valley Pathways High School in Palmer. Starting October 6th, over 643,000 eligible Alaskans will receive a $1,022 check. The Governor was joined by Palmer 8th grader Shania Sommer, who helped announce last year’s dividend amount.

Full Press Release

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Unemployment rate remains at 6.6 percent in April

EconomyAlaska’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 6.6 percent in April, unchanged from the previous month. The comparable U.S. rate was 5.0 percent.

The state’s adjusted rate has held steady at 6.6 percent since October of last year. This suggests that the impacts of job losses in the oil and gas industry and state government have not yet spread through the broader economy.

April’s unadjusted rate was 6.9 percent, down four tenths of a percentage point from March’s 7.3 percent. This is a typical seasonal decrease in the unadjusted rate as Alaska’s economy gears up for summer construction, fishing and tourism.

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Governor Walker Signs Bill to Promote Economic Development

EconomyGovernor Bill Walker signed into law today SB 157, which promotes greater economic development and job growth in Alaska. Sponsored by Senator Lesil McGuire of Anchorage, the bill clarifies that restaurants and other venues featuring arcade-style amusement games may lawfully operate in Alaska. Governor Walker signed the legislation during a bill-signing ceremony at his office in Juneau.

“Creating more jobs for Alaskans and spurring economic growth are two of the highest priorities of this administration,” said Governor Walker. “I applaud Senator McGuire for bringing this legislation forward, and working with local developers to bring more business opportunities to our state.”

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2016 State of the Budget

EconomyGood evening Alaskans. I’m Governor Bill Walker. I am addressing you tonight from Juneau during the closing days of the regular legislative session.

I want to talk about where we are, what we need to do, and the exciting part – what we’re going to do when we’re done with this phase.

I come from a building background and I’m an ultimate optimist. I have a vision for Alaska that’s very different from where we are right now—a vision where we’re not worried about balancing the budget, or what the price of oil is today; an Alaska that is not tied to the roller coaster kind of economy we have seen so many times before.

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Unemployment rate remains at 6.6 percent in February

EconomyAlaska’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 6.6 percent in February, unchanged from the previous month. The comparable U.S. rate was also unchanged at 4.9 percent.

The state’s seasonally adjusted rate has remained fairly steady since the beginning of 2015, which suggests the wake from the drop in oil prices still hasn’t hit Alaska’s economy on a broad scale.

The retail trade, health care and leisure and hospitality sectors were up slightly in February over the previous year, and manufacturing was flat. While state government losses dragged down public sector employment, growth in federal and local government employment nearly offset the losses.

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Susitna Repairs Await Amended Contract

EconomyPatty Sullivan, MSB

Last night, the Matanuska-Susitna Borough Assembly voted to wait for a signed, amended contract with the buyer of the Susitna Ferry before authorizing the vessel’s engine repair work. Mayor Vern Halter broke the tie vote and chose to wait for agreement from the buyer on extending the date for delivery of the ship.

The Susitna arrived in Seattle this morning, (Feb. 24) after a tug began towing it last week from Ward Cove, near Ketchikan.
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Study Finds Widespread Economic Benefits of Alaska Ferry System

EconomyThe Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities today released a report on the economic impacts of the Alaska Marine Highway System. The report, prepared by the Juneau-based McDowell Group, found that the state-run ferry system generates a return of more than $2 to the state for every $1 invested.

“The ferry system provides a critical link for many communities,” Governor Bill Walker said. “But I was surprised to learn just how widespread the economic impacts are, accounting for 1,700 Alaska jobs and more than $100 million in wages and benefits.”

The report found Anchorage residents were the number two source of bookings, after Juneau. Other key findings include:

Two-thirds of AMHS users are Alaska residents.
The state’s general fund investment of $117 million in 2014 resulted in a total return on investment of $273 million.
Over half of all summer ferry passengers visit Anchorage.
AMHS nonresident summer passengers spend an average of $1300 per person while in Alaska
Nonresident summer passengers who enter or exit Alaska via AMHS spend an average of $1700 – compared to $941 average of among all Alaska summer visitors.
AMHS carried 319,000 passengers, 108,000 vehicles, and almost 4,000 container vans in 2014.
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State Will Offer Individualized Reemployment Services to Thousands of Unemployed Workers

EconomyThe Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development has received grants totaling $462,435 from the U.S. Department of Labor to expand statewide reemployment services to Unemployment Insurance claimants through December 2016. Services will focus on two groups of unemployed workers: Unemployment Insurance claimants most likely to exhaust benefits and all recently-separated military personnel. These two groups of job seekers stand to benefit extensively from the highly-individualized Reemployment Services provided through Job Centers in Alaska’s most populated communities.

“These grants significantly expand our resources to help Alaska’s unemployed workers and transitioning military service members,” said Labor Commissioner Heidi Drygas. “Our staff will be able to provide targeted services to help them gain meaningful employment as quickly as possible.”

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Unemployment rate at 6.5 percent in December

EconomyAlaska’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 6.5 percent in December, essentially unchanged from November’s 6.4 percent. The comparable national rate was 5.0 percent.

Alaska’s seasonally adjusted rate showed no clear trend in 2015, consistent with other economic indicators that suggest last year’s economy was relatively flat.

The not-seasonally adjusted rate was 6.6 percent in December, up from November’s 6.4 percent. December was the first month in 2015 that the unadjusted rate was higher than the same month in the previous year.

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Unemployment rate remains at 6.4 percent in November

EconomyJUNEAU, Alaska—Alaska’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 6.4 percent in November, unchanged from September and October. The comparable national rate was 5.0 percent, also the same as October.

Alaska’s jobless rate has been relatively steady through most of 2015. The unemployment rate is just one of several indicators of the economy’s health, but the flat trend suggests sustained low oil prices have not yet taken a significant toll.

The not-seasonally adjusted rate rose from 6.1 percent in October to 6.4 percent in November, a typical seasonal increase. Rates rose in all but three boroughs and census areas.
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State, Japan Renew LNG Export Agreement

EconomyANCHORAGE—Governor Bill Walker announced today the State of Alaska extended its cooperation agreement with Japan-based consortium Resources Energy, Inc. (REI), to develop Cook Inlet natural gas. This agreement extension comes three months after Governor Walker met with more than 25 companies and government agencies, including the prefectures of Kyoto and Hyogo, during an international liquefied natural gas conference in Tokyo, where he told more than a thousand attendees of the Alaskan LNG opportunity.

The agreement with REI, which was extended two more years to December 14, 2017, encourages the development of Cook Inlet natural gas to provide Alaskans low-cost energy while also supplying Japanese consumers.

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