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Unemployment Low, Consumer Optimism High for Anchorage Economy

The Anchorage Economic Development Corp. issued the fourth-quarter results of its 2012 Anchorage Consumer Optimism Index (ANCi), as well as the February 2013 Employment Report, and the numbers are promising. Consumers continue to show explicit confidence in the local economy, personal financial situations and expectations for the future, while February unemployment dropped to 5.2 percent.

Sponsored by KeyBank and produced by Northern Economics, Inc. on behalf of AEDC, the ANCi measures the confidence of consumers using data from a random sample of 350 households in the Municipality of Anchorage. Comprised of three individual components — Local Economy Confidence, Personal Financial Confidence and Expectations for the Future — the overall reading fell slightly from 57.6 in the third quarter to 57 in the fourth quarter, while the six-month average maintained stability near its highest levels.

“The ANCi continues to demonstrate the confidence of Anchorage consumers,” said Bill Popp, president and CEO of AEDC. “The overall index was well above 2011 readings, despite national economic challenges.”

The Local Economy Confidence component remained strong with a reading of 60.9, the second-highest number recorded last year. Personal Financial Confidence dropped from 65.2 to 61.9, which resulted in a less profitable holiday shopping season for both local and national retailers. While the Expectations of the Future component scored at 52.7, down slightly from quarter three, it measures as one of the category’s higher readings in the three-year history of the survey.

Employment in Anchorage increased by 2.15 percent in 2012 with an added 3,300 jobs, exceeding AEDC’s forecast for job growth last year. Employment in goods-producing jobs rose by 11 percent in 2013 over this same period in 2012, while services-producing jobs experienced a sizeable increase of 400 new jobs during the same time frame. Alaska’s unemployment rate decreased by 0.3 percent between January and February this year, indicating a strong start for the 2013 employment climate.

AEDC is a private, nonprofit membership organization developed in 1987 to encourage growth and to diversify the Anchorage economy. The organization has more than 235 investors, which represent all industries in Anchorage and Alaska. For more information visit www.AEDCweb.com

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