Alaskans still guarded about economy, survey shows


A Dittman Research survey done for the Alaska Chamber of Commerce shows that Alaskans are somewhat split down the middle on their views of the current state of Alaska’s economy.

Although the sentiment still falls slightly toward pessimism, there is a marked improvement in optimism over last year.


Overall, 52 percent of those asked say Alaska’s economy is not too good or pretty bad, while 47 percent think its good or very good. This is an improvement of nine points over the same survey conducted last year.

Republicans have a more positive view than Democrats have for Alaska’s economic situation, with 61 percent of GOP likely voters rating the economy as good, while just 44 percent of Democrats rate it as good.


Overall, 64 percent of respondents — about the same as last year — think things are still headed in the wrong direction.

On this question, Republicans are also more optimistic than Democrats. Only 16 percent of Democrats think Alaska is headed n the right direction, while 51 percent of Republicans think it is.


75 percent of those asked said they support a requirement that any statewide tax be approved by a vote of the people. This is one of Gov. Michael Dunleavy’s constitutional amendment proposals and it has strong support, according to this survey.


61 percent support a constitutional spending cap. That proposal is the third one Dunleavy has asked the Legislature to send to the voters for their decision.


Kati Capozzi, President, Alaska Chamber of Commerce

Alaska Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Kati Capozzi said Alaskans have spoken: “They want reasonable restraints on government spending and a final say in big budget decisions. Based on the data, without a doubt Alaska’s fiscal dilemma remains residents’ top concern.”

[Read: Chamber President says it’s time to rein in spending.]

Advocating for a sustainable fiscal plan has been a priority of the Chamber for more than 20 years, she added.


54 percent say they think the Permanent Fund Dividend payment should be guaranteed by the Alaska Constitution.

This, too, is one of Dunleavy’s proposed constitutional amendments and voters support it by close to the same percentage as swept him into office. Dunleavy won by 51.4 percent in November over Mark Begich, the Democrat.


When asked if they support using some of their Permanent Fund dividend to pay for government, 46 percent support it and 53 percent oppose it.


On the question of Medicaid work requirements for some who receive health insurance through the federal-state program, 69 percent say they support requiring low-income, able-bodies adults without young children to get a job in order to qualify. That is down from 77 percent just a year ago.

Republicans support that proposal more than Democrats: 83 percent of the Republicans queried responded that they somewhat or strongly support a Medicaid work mandate for those who are able.


Alaskans are less optimistic about a natural gas pipeline, with 57 percent saying the gasline won’t be built in the foreseeable future. Those who were most skeptical of the gasline identified as nonpartisans or undeclared voters, with over 60 percent of those saying it’s not likely to be built anytime soon.


65 percent of respondents somewhat support or strongly support exploration and production of oil and gas in a portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. This is a drop from the highest support for ANWR drilling, 75 percent in 2002. It is also the lowest number tracked by the group since 1990, when 72 percent of Alaskans supported drilling in ANWR.


The survey sampled 705 likely voters, 60 percent landline and 40 percent cell phone. The margin of error is considered 3.69 percent.

Dittman Research has correctly predicted the outcome of every election for governor and U.S. Senate in Alaska for the last 50 years. The firm is ranked in the top 10 nationally out of 300+ polling firms for “Races Called Correctly” by Nate Silver’s 538 Pollster Ratings, scoring 100% ‘Correct Calls’ with nine elections evaluated.

The entire slide deck of the survey can be studied at the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce.


  1. One budget item that is rarely discussed in the media is the “pension crisis” currently facing Alaska and many other states in the Nation.
    Is this because both entrenched Democrats and Republicans benifit from the high pension system that was created before there was a budget concern in AK?
    “In 2005, Alaska had a $5.7 billion shortfall in its pension system. On a per capita basis, Alaska’s pension crisis was in worse shape than Illinois’ system is today.”
    Cliff Groh of UAA did a nice research paper on “unfunded pensions” in Alaska and he believes the debt is now over $6 Billion dollars.
    This is a huge weight for younger workers to carry in AK.
    It also is a big reason there is not enough money each year to pay out our PFD’s at the defined rate.
    Although there were reforms to the old pension system, this will not help for many years as “boomers” are retiring in droves and lack of new state revenues does not help the shortfall.
    “While the budgetary benefits of Alaska’s pension reform will only be felt over time (since older workers on a defined benefit system still greatly outnumber the new workers on the defined contribution system)”
    How does this $6 billion dollar deficit contribute to our annual budget deficit?

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