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Development key to reducing Anchorage cost of living

Last year, the cost of living in Anchorage was 26 percent higher than the national average, according to the Cost of Living Index report issued by the Anchorage Economic Development Corp. This data ranks Anchorage as the 23rd most expensive city in the country and AEDC is analyzing the report findings to identify ways in which Anchorage can become a more affordable city.

The index compares cost of living data for Anchorage to 306 participating areas nationally, measuring housing, health care, miscellaneous goods and services, grocery, transportation and utilities costs. Anchorage’s overall index in 2013 was 126.2, or 26.2 percent higher than the average American city.

The highest reading of the index is the cost of housing, which ranks Anchorage as the 20th highest in the nation. Housing costs have been on the rise since 2008, with the cost of a house up 2.87 percent from 2012 and 7.8 percent from 2011. Cost of health care is also high, with Anchorage ranking as the fourth highest in the nation behind Fairbanks, Juneau and Kodiak.

“The COLI report may be disheartening, but we see positive movement that may point toward a solution,” said Bill Popp, president and CEO of AEDC. “Remodeling and expansion of supermarkets in Anchorage contributed to a significant decrease in grocery costs in 2013, suggesting that growth and diversification is key to reducing our cost of living. Encouraging new businesses to come to Alaska, as well as aggressively growing our existing economic base, will help to ensure future prosperity in our state.”

The grocery index, which has been declining steadily over the last two years, is at its lowest annual reading since 2007. Increased competition, including several new Walmart superstores, a new Sam’s Club and updated Fred Meyer stores, are responsible for this drop. The transportation index is also down, with readings that have been trending closer to the national average for the past three years. The utilities category is the lowest index of the group, with a reading of 99.

The full Cost of Living Index report is available at AEDCweb.com.

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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