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Alaska: How Alaska wages have shifted in the last 25 years - According to the Alaska Department of Labor, over the last four decades, the richest 1 percent of Americans had 181 percent income growth, meaning their income nearly tripled. Everyone else - the 99 percent - saw income increase a mere 2.6 percent. Men’s wages actually declined over that period and women’s median wages continued growing until around 2000, and have stagnated over the last 15 years.

Wages have stagnated and inequality has grown even as a growing percentage of Americans earn a four-year college degree. For the first time in American history, rising worker productivity has not translated into higher wages. Such failures in national economic policy are not inevitable — they are a result of more regressive taxation, union-busting, education defunding, and outsourcing.

The October issue of Alaska Economic Trends explains how earning patterns have shifted in the last 25 years. According to a report by Alaska Department of Labor Research Analyst Mali Abrahamson, the total amount earned has grown steadily over the past 25 years, but there have been shifts in the distribution of those earnings.

The percentage of year-round Alakska workers making relatively low wages — between $20,000 and $40,000 — increased from 28 percent in 1989 to 34 percent in 2014. However, the percentage of Alaskans making moderately high wages — between $70,000 and $150,000 — fell from 34 percent to 26 percent.

For the small number of workers making more than $200,000 a year, the percentage more than doubled between 1989 and 2014, from 0.8 percent to 1.7 per- cent. That growth came mostly from upper manage- ment occupations in the oil and gas industry.

Related to the shift in wages, Alaska’s median wages is also lower now than it was 25 years ago, though it has been steadily rising since 1999. All wages in this article are adjusted for inflation and are in 2014 dollars.

Abrahamson's report covers only year-round workers, or those who worked in Alaska in all four quarters of the year. Wages and worker counts include full-time and part-time employees and exclude federal civilian and military workers as well as the self-employed.

It also only covers payroll workers, or those who earn a wage or salary. Business owners, including partners in a business who share profits but don’t receive a wage or salary, are excluded.

The median wage went down

In 1989, Alaska’s median wage was $48,654, the highest over the 25-year period. The state’s economy changed as the service sector expanded in the early ‘90s, bringing in more lower-paying jobs in office administration, food service, and retail.

State and local government workers’ wages also dropped significantly as Alaska emerged from the high-demand labor market of the 1970s and 1980s brought on by pipeline construction and the boom fueled by new oil revenue.

By 1999, the median wage hit its lowest point at $40,350. It has gradually increased since then, to $44,750 by 2014.

More workers with lower wages

Two-thirds of the numerical growth in year-round workers since 1989 has been among those making less than $50,000 a year. There was little to no increase in the number of workers in the $90,000 to $200,000 range. - More...
Monday PM - October 12, 2015



Southeast Alaska: Forest Service plans to withdraw Tongass old-growth timber sale - In a federal court filing last Friday the U.S. Forest Service announced it will withdraw its decision on the Mitkof Island Project, a large 35 million board foot timber sale. The project is in the center of the Tongass National Forest, near the communities of Petersburg and Kupreanof.

Petersburg District Ranger Jason Anderson signed the Forest Service's decision in March. In May five environmental organizations filed the lawsuit, GSACC v. Anderson. They are the Greater Southeast Alaska Conservation Community, Cascadia Wildlands, Center for Biological Diversity, Greenpeace, and the Alaska Wildlife Alliance. The organizations are represented by Chris Winter and Oliver Stiefel of Crag Law Center (Portland) and Gabriel Scott.

"Faced with the realities brought forth in our lawsuit, the Forest Service is withdrawing its authorization of the Mitkof project rather than defend it in court. This is a victory for old growth, wildlife, and subsistence hunters, although we don't yet know whether the agency will attempt resurrecting the project with future planning," said Cordova-based Gabriel Scott of Cascadia Wildlands.

At issue in the lawsuit is the harm caused by logging old-growth and to the species dependent on old growth forests including Sitka black-tailed deer-an essential resource for subsistence hunters-the Alexander Archipelago wolf, and the Queen Charlotte goshawk. Petersburg resident Becky Knight of GSACC said: "Mitkof Island has been hard hit by 60 years of industrial logging. Subsistence hunters from the community rely on deer as a primary source of protein, but for years have been faced with critically low deer populations and severe harvest restrictions. This area of the Tongass needs a long period of recovery, but this sale targeted some of the few remaining stands of important winter deer habitat."

Randi Spivak with the Center for Biological Diversity said, "During the planning process for this sale, the Forest Service tried to downplay and hide from the public the full scope of the damage this logging would cause." Spivak added: "The agency initially told the public this was a 'small sale' involving only a local logging opportunities, but the project ballooned to a major timber sale designed for a large regional or out-of-state timber operator." - More...
Monday PM - October 12, 2015


Alaska Science:
Pioneer songbird meets an early snowstorm By NED ROZELL - As piles of wet snow fell, an unexpected guest rapped at the window.

Pioneer songbird meets an early snowstorm

Kristen Rozell holds a golden-crowned kinglet that hit a Fairbanks window during a snowstorm.
Ned Rozell photo.

My wife, Kristen, heard it bump into the glass. She was soon cupping in her hands a delicate bird she saw perched on the windowsill.

"It's a golden-crowned kinglet!" she said.

Kristen is a bird biologist, but I was surprised at her identification. Mighty little ruby-crowned kinglets belt out their big songs in our woods each spring, but golden-crowns do not appear north of the Alaska Range on any maps of where the birds live. Neither of us remember seeing one here before.

But the flaming yellow mohawk was a can’t-miss indicator that what Kristen held was indeed a female golden-crowned kinglet.

That little refugee was a fun mystery during a storm that deposited more than a foot of wet snow on our patch of boreal forest in less than one day.

Kristen mixed some sugar and water in a Nalgene cap and touched a few droplets to the stunned bird's beak. Soon, she felt movement in her hands.

"She's getting peppy."

Kristen stepped outside and held her palm open. A bird that weighed as much as two pennies stood there in the cold, moist air. After one minute, it fluttered off. First it perched on roof metal. Then it moved to an umbrella-like space beneath snowy spruce branches.

A chickadee that flew into the same tree right after the kinglet looked like a giant in comparison. Golden-crowned kinglets are even smaller than ruby-crowned kinglets: about as big as your thumb.

What was one the smallest songbirds doing in a far-north forest at the start of winter? - More...
Monday PM - October 12, 2015


Columns - Commentary

jpg Tom Purcell
TOM PURCELL: Pampered College Nitwits - Too many college-age kids are unable to care for their most basic needs, which doesn't bode well for my future.

Peter Gray, Ph.D., a research professor at Boston College, writes in Psychology Today that increasing lack of resilience among today's college kids is causing educators all kinds of problems.

"Students are increasingly seeking help for, and apparently having emotional crises over, problems of everyday life," he writes.

He cites some worrisome examples.

At one major university, emergency calls to the counseling department more than doubled over the past five years.

In one case, a female student felt traumatized because her roommate had called her a "bitch."

In another case, two students "sought counseling because they had seen a mouse in their off-campus apartment" — after they panicked and called the police, who set a mousetrap for the startled students.

Such needy students are forcing faculty to do more hand-holding, and to lower academic standards, so as to not challenge the fragile little nitwits too much.


Because if professors do challenge them, the whiners will go to online professor-rating sites and give the professors lousy reviews.

Where did this unresilient, needy generation come from? - More...
Monday PM - October 12, 2015

jpg Political Cartoon: First Democratic Debate

Political Cartoon: First Democratic Debate
CNN's coverage of the debate begins at 8:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday.
By David Fitzsimmons ©2015, The Arizona Star
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.

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letter Leave the Permanent Fund Dividend alone By David G. Hanger - If a business voluntarily de-funds itself by giving away all of its products for free or for much less than their cost, no one is going to be surprised when the business crashes, nor is anyone likely to have sympathy for the bonehead who did this to himself. Certainly no one is obligated to re-fund him because he was stupid enough to de-fund himself. So why should anyone in the private sector be expected to re-fund the government when that government decides of its own volition to de-fund itself? - More...
Tuesday AM - October 13, 2015

letter Steps for Change By Diane Gubatayao - October is both Domestic Violence Awareness Month and National Bullying Prevention Month. In some respects the two are related as they both involve interpersonal violence. Two years ago, we learned from the UA Justice Center Victimization survey that 50% of women in Ketchikan report being the victim of domestic or sexual violence in their lifetime. That’s one out of two; perhaps your friend, your neighbor, your relative, your co-worker, or perhaps you. And we also know from youth surveys that bullying is a serious issue for our students. - More...
Tuesday AM - October 13, 2015

letter Gun control By Norbert Chaudhary - I'm a firm believer in the Second Amendment and this talk of gun restrictions has me deeply disturbed. Now Obama wants to take executive action forcing typical average Americans who sell more than 50 guns per year to be treated the same as any other gun dealer! This will require them to have background checks done on every single person they sell guns to! - More...
Tuesday AM - October 13, 2015

letter Federal taxes By Rudy McGillvray - I too support, Mr. Brooks and his idea for National Sales tax, for the reason that every one's money is his own and should only be taxed when he decides to spend some, to get needed or wanted items. - More...
Tuesday AM - October 13, 2015

letter Alaska Marine Highway System By Brita Alander - Remember the friendly days of our State Ferry System? The State Marine Highway would change schedules for our students' sporting events or other community events like Gold Medal. - More...
Tuesday AM - October 13, 2015

letter Putin It To Obama By Donald A. Moskowitz - President Putin just put it to President Obama concerning the situation in Syria.
They had a discussion about military involvement in Syria, and Putin convinced Obama the Russian air units in Syria would help with attacks on ISIL. However, Putin never considered attacking ISIL because his military forces are in Syria to bolster the Assad regime, and therefore they are bombing the U.S. backed anti-Assad rebels; and Russian ground forces are attacking the anti-Assad forces. - More...
Tuesday AM - October 13, 2015

letter Income Tax Records Vulnerable to Hackers By Wiley Brooks - The Internal Revenue Service said recently that hackers had gained access to the tax returns of more than 300,000 people, a far higher number than the agency had reported previously. The current income tax system continues to make all of us vulnerable to hackers stealing our identities and our tax refunds. Only the FairTax® can stop this invasion of our privacy. Here is a quote from Dan Pilla (founder and director of the Tax Freedom Institute) discussing IRS hacking: "This is just one more reason we have to consider fundamental changes to the tax system. Not even a flat tax will fix the problem of ID theft since a flat tax still requires both the filing of tax returns and the blizzard of information the IRS lusts after. Only a national retail sales tax can solve this massive problem because only that system can once and for all dam the river of data flowing to the federal government." The software used by the IRS is 14 years old. A politically devised bureaucratically controlled government agency cannot keep pace with today's fast-moving high-technology. - More...
Wednesday PM - October 07, 2015

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