DATE:  December 3, 2001     NO: 01-91

CONTACT: Cristina Klein  PHONE: (907) 269-3668

Department of Labor and Workforce Development

News Release

December Alaska Economic Trends Focuses on Alaska's Seniors

Alaskans over the age of 60 are expected to more than triple in number from 53,000 in 2000 to 165,000, or 20 percent of the population, in 2025, according to the December issue of Alaska Economic Trends which is now available

In its lead article, the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development publication looks at preliminary information on seniors from the 2000 U.S. Census and touches on issues such as medical costs and housing that affect seniors as they age. With advances in medicine seniors are living longer, contributing to the rising cost of living.

Some highlights of the article by Cristina Klein, deputy director of the Division of Senior Services for the Alaska Department of Administration, are:

- Of more than 800 seniors age 60 and over surveyed in 1999, nine out of ten expected to remain in Alaska. Primary reasons for leaving were better climate, proximity to relatives, and lower cost of living.
- Alaskans over age 60 generate an estimated $1.2 billion in income and government medical benefits annually.
- Seventy-two percent of all survey respondents have health insurance other than Medicare and about 25% of this percentage have long-term care coverage.
- Urban seniors (77%) were more likely than rural seniors (55%) to have health insurance other than Medicare.
- In Alaska, 93 percent of people age 65 and over pay for their retirement in part with social security.
- Seniors are likely to own their own homes and have few debts; however, as seniors age, they are likely to spend down savings and assets to cover medical bills and specialized housing.

Research also shows that senior women outnumber senior men, especially in Alaska, that more seniors are poor, and that more of the poor are women. Women may live longer than men, but fare poorly when it comes to income. 

According to the U.S. Census 2000, 14 percent of seniors age 65 and over fell below the poverty line. Of seniors age 65 and below the poverty line, women made up 54 percent. The difference in poverty status increases with age between men and women.

The December Alaska Economic Trends also takes a look at how the September 11 terrorists attacks have shaken up the national economy and what effects, if any, have been felt in Alaska. 

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