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Peninsula poverty average with state

Officials remain hopeful despite continued demand for assistance

Posted: March 12, 2012 - 10:56pm  |  Updated: March 12, 2012 - 10:58pm

Poverty levels in the Kenai Peninsula Borough are on par with state wide levels, according to information recently published by the Alaska Department of Labor.

From 2006 to 2010, 9.5 percent of people in the borough were considered in poverty — the same level as the state, according to information in a report written by Department of Labor economist Alyssa Shanks.

The poverty level is determined by a number of factors, including age, household size and number of children living in the house. For instance, one person living alone under the age of 65 is considered below the poverty line if he or she makes less than $11,344 per year. A four-person household with two children under 18 years old is considered in poverty if the family’s income is less than $22,113 per year. Poverty levels do not take into account cost of living or other expenses, just family income, Shanks said.

However, areas surrounding the borough, save for Anchorage, all have higher poverty levels, including Kodiak Island Borough, 10.9 percent; Lake and Peninsula Borough, 21.4 percent; Dillingham Census Area, 18.1 percent; Bethel, 18.6 percent and Matanuska-Susitna with 9.9 percent.

The Valdez-Cordova area has a lower rate of 6.9 percent poverty, Anchorage, 7.9 percent; and Juneau; 6.5 percent.

“The biggest factor is going to be that wages in (your) borough are lower than the state average and lower than Anchorage,” Shanks said.

However, if the margin of error in the data is taken into account, Kenai could be on par or just slightly above Anchorage’s poverty level, Shanks said.

“Kenai is a pretty seasonal place and that factors into it,” she said. “Folks make most of their wages in the summer and it is a ‘enough to get by’ sort of a thing, but when you are looking at it averaged out over the year it still falls below that poverty threshold.”

As a whole, Alaska’s poverty rate from 2006 to 2010 was lower than averages across the nation and among states in the Northwest region. The national poverty rate was 13.8 percent of the population. In Washington it was 12.1 percent; Oregon, 14 percent and California, 13.7 percent.

One of the reasons Alaska as a whole has a seemingly low rate is because things like living expenses and public assistance programs aren’t taken into account, Shanks said. If such things were factored in, Shanks said the rate would likely still rise, but that always depends on the amount of public assistance available.

“It is really hard to tell,” she said. “I would say it would probably go up, but because as a state we get so much assistance, it is hard for me to tell right off the bat if it would go up or it would go down.”

Shanks said the borough can also thank its comparitively low poverty rate on a diverse economy and the availability of jobs.

“Kenai has jobs,” she said. “It has opportunities whereas a lot of the places that have 25 to 30 percent poverty rates, they also have chronic joblessness. So it doesn’t matter what time of year, you are going to see unemployment rates (in other places) that are double digits.

“That’s a big, big piece. I think that would be the most important piece as to why their poverty rates are so high is because there aren’t jobs ... and their income is as low as it can be and still be maintaining life.”

In December of 2011, the most recent statistics available, the borough had a 9.6 percent unemployment rate, which was up from 8.9 percent in November, but that increase follows traditional seasonal swings. The unemployment rate is down, however, from 10.7 percent in December of 2010, according to state data.

The national unemployment rate is 8.5 percent and Alaska’s state average is 7.3 percent.

The state’s more urban areas have lower unemployment, including Anchorage, 5.6 percent; Juneau, 5 percent and the Fairbanks North Star Borough with 6.7 percent.

Across the borough, average food stamp caseloads have also increased over the last several years, state officials reported.

According to information provided by the Alaska Health and Social Services Department, average monthly food stamp caseloads have increased 38 percent in borough households from 2009 to 2011. In 2009, the average caseload for homes in the borough was 1,982, which grew to 2,729 in 2011.

Individual food stamp caseloads in the area also increased 29 percent in the same three-year stretch, from 4,535 cases in 2009 to 5,856 cases in 2011.

Linda Swarner, executive director of the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank, said those statistics match up with what her organization is seeing, particularly in the area of families needing more assistance. However, increases haven’t been as dramatic as they were around the 2008 “spike,” she said.

“There are two-income and three-income families that some of them may have had their hours cut or their job positions have been eliminated totally,” she said. “We are also seeing a number of people that have health issues so they can’t work.”

Diana Spann, Peninsula Regional Manager for the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, said foot traffic at the Peninsula Job Center in Kenai’s old Carr’s Mall has steadily increased in the seven years she has worked there.

“I can’t talk to the poverty level, but I know the people we have come in the job center looking for work has increased and it has increased steadily every year since I have worked here,” she said. “Right now we have most of our computers busy for most of the day and we have beefed up the workshops to meet the needs better of what our customers need.”

The job center, in addition to housing information, classes and other resources for job seekers also serves as a one-stop-shop for those in need. The Department of Public Assistance — which helps with food stamps, energy assistance and other programs — is also housed in the same building just a few steps away, Spann said.

“It’s no wrong door,” she said. “They come in here and they don’t need to know we are the Department of Labor or the Department of Public Assistance ... or whatever, they just need to come in and we just ask them what brings them in and what can we do and then we help them find what they need.”

The staff also works hard on referrals and follow-ups to help make sure residents’ basic needs are met so perhaps they can climb above the poverty level.

“They can’t go to work if they don’t have a place to live or food in their belly or clothes to wear or they if they don’t have decent child care for their kids — those are things that have to be figured out before they can go to work,” she said.

Spann remains optimistic about the area’s unemployment and poverty level based on what she sees from the local job market, she said. She said there are a wide range of local jobs available and she hears more success stories each day, she said.

“We are seeing some good paying jobs posted and I think today we had a (total) of 267 jobs listed,” she said in late-February. “That is an increase in the number of open positions, so things are looking better from our point of view.”

 

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northernlights
216
Points
northernlights 03/13/12 - 11:10 am
0
0
food stamps

I read the article where that woman won a million dollars in the lottery and continues to collect foodstamps. I think the word poverty is screwed up. I have very little money, live off of $1000.00 a month, but my life is very rich. Great friends, good food and all my needs are met. I know many wealthy people who are poor. Its how you look at life. To many people focus on what they don't have instead of what they do have. Very few understand what poverty is. Living under a tin roof, no utilites, no running water, a dirt floor, and so on, iv'e seen it, thats poverty. People up here in Alaska are not poor. attitude towards life makes you poor. There's a free handout on every corner, free food, free lunches, free heating assistance etc. We are rich. Espcialy those with children, you get many more benefits, large PFD's adds up. The poor people are those who can work but refuse to work.

Allen
618
Points
Allen 03/13/12 - 01:45 pm
0
0
Not the same tired old

Not the same tired old myths!

(1) "woman wins million dollar lottery still collects food stamps," Please give us her name, or the source of your claim.

(2) "those who can work but refuse to work." Name one person. I have yet to meet one single person who CAN work but REFUSES to do so. There are a lot of people who can't find jobs, are too sick to work, are too mentally ill or disabled so no one will hire them, have been out of the workplace too long and employers won't give them a chance, etc.

Please, stop spouting slogans and look at what's happening in real life.

northernlights
216
Points
northernlights 03/13/12 - 02:17 pm
0
0
refusing to work

No one is spouting slogans. Yes there are absolutley people who can work and refuse to work. They are poor people. I didnt say those who want to work and cant get a job. The woman who collects foodstamps after winning the lottery, here it is, its also a disgrace. You can also type it in on google.
http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/03/08/michigan-woman-who-won-1m-lottery-but-kept-using-food-stamps-loses-benefits-141935620/
I am disabled, I live on less than $1000.00 a month, I have no extra money, but I'm not poor, and I'm not in poverty. If I look at what I dont have then its easy to get depressed and angry. I cant allow my mind to go there. Don't get mad at me for saying a person who is able to work and refuses to work is poor. I won't name them, and I mean THEM, its a small town. None the less I stand behind my statement, look at what you have, not what you dont have. Most of our battles we face in life are in the mind. You are where you are because of your believing and you will go where ever you go because of your believing. Hopers don't get any where, believers do. Action without beleiving is not believing. this statement applies to those who can work and is able to work.

savmar01
4
Points
savmar01 03/13/12 - 03:44 pm
0
0
Allen

Allen, I can't speak to the rest of northernlight's post, but the lottery winner who collected Food Stamp benefits after winning a million dollars was from Michigan. As of a few days ago, she was removed from the Food Stamps program. Sadly enough, it was not a myth. It's a pretty disgusting article to read, especially since she thinks she did nothing wrong.

http://abcnews.go.com/Business/michigan-million-lotto-winner-longer-food-stamps/story?id=15876636

kenai_kid
222
Points
kenai_kid 03/13/12 - 03:47 pm
1
0
Economic Inequality

There has been a shift in economic equality over the past 40 years. The ultra rich ($100 million annual income and higher) have garnered a 300% raise in income from the wealth generated by economic expansion while the middle class has virtually taken a step backwards in the same time period when adjusted for inflation. The poorer segment of the population has been able to climb at a paultry rate of 6% since 1972. Prior to 1972, everyone climbed at roughly the same rate. If the economy expanded by 25%. ultra rich garnered a 25% raise in income a year, the middle class wages rose at nearly the same pace and there was not a huge disparity between the income levels.
There are so many factors that contribute to this condition; lack of a truly progressive tax, as was had prior to the 1970's is chief among them. However, there has been many other legislative moves in Washington that aid in continuing to make the rich richer and shrinking the middle class. In a phrase, Washington has created winner take all economy.

kenai_kid
222
Points
kenai_kid 03/13/12 - 04:05 pm
3
0
Northernlights

NorthernIights agree and stand with you on your statements. Happiness is the true measure of success, not money, riches or how big of a house you live in.

Jerry
0
Points
Jerry 03/14/12 - 04:30 pm
0
1
I see on todays wannbe news

I see on todays wannbe news CNN Jack Cafferty that there are 1.5 million Americans that are now surviving on $2.00 a day, and Jack wanted to know what we think about this news.
First off i would like to say that 70%+ of the Worlds population lives on, who would have thunk it, $2.00 a day.

So what do i think about it? I think it's gonna get alot worse before it gets better, so please stock up while you can, and help opthers where you can, and while you can.

Our Prez. was chosen as the one that would lead us all into the new world order & that means America has got to become like most of the world economically, as well as the loss of our soverign rights to join this Union of 1 worlders.

Remember when Obama was in Europe & told them that he was not an American, but a citizen of the World & that we all need to work together to save our planet?
He did not lie then, and has worked nonstop at getin-r-done.

I use to live in a house with dirt floors, no plumbing & my family lived out of the dump, and got govt. comodities, so i've seen hard times, and was also happy and thankful back then with what we had.
People can't recycle things any more from the dump and i just saw where America dumps 96 Billion lbs of food a year, foods that could be used to feed people, but the stores get rebates only if they toss the stuff.
What a crying shame, and it happens daily right here on the Kenai, while people go with out.

We as Alaskans are in a very special place & will be alot better off than almost every one in any other parts of America, but we will have to work together & help others.
My wife & i use to buy close to $800.00 worth of foods every thanksgiving & christmas for the food bank every year, until guess what.
I took 20 hams, 20 turkeys & all the fixings into the bank one day & as i stood there waiting for my receipt i watched in shock as a family grab several hams & turkeys & cases of veggies that i had just brought in.

I asked the attendant what was up with this as i had hoped to feed 20+ famileys with a complete dinner, too which she replied that people can have as much of any one thing as they want, as it goes by total weight, not items.
I informed the attendant that i would never bring another thing to the food bank as long as this system was in place, & we haven't sadly.

The family by the way was driving a new cadilac escalade, which may be considered abuse of the system, or not, depending on who it is making the judgements of whats really going on.

p.s. Reverting to adhominem or hitting the ignore button ain't gonna change reality or every day facts.
Facts showing that trouble is coming soon & you've been warned by the Bible, Daily News & me, all of which testify of these things being true concerning troubled times that are coming and in fact have already hit many.

kenai_kid
222
Points
kenai_kid 03/14/12 - 04:26 pm
0
0
Actually Jerry...

80% of the worlds population lives on under $10 per day. Actually, on slightly less than 40% live on less than $2.00 per day.
http://www.globalissues.org/article/26/poverty-facts-and-stats

Some influential people who have used the term "new world order:"
Woodrow Wilson
Henry Cabot Lodge
Harry Truman
George H.W. Bush (address to congress 1990 http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Toward_a_New_World_Order)
George W. Bush
Barrack Obama
Kurt Waldehiem
Mikhail Gorbechev
Rajiv Gandhi

I forgot, these people are all related to each other so it is more of a family plan???

Jerry
0
Points
Jerry 03/14/12 - 08:54 pm
0
1
KK thanks for this info.

KK thanks for this info. About the Family Dream act of a OWO, as i have said it was released in Lynne Cheney's book called "Blue Skies, No Fences," all when Dick Cheney was asked about his cousin Obama before the 2008 election.

Also this info use to be found on the New England Geneological Historical Society web site, all under Samuel Hinckley of Cape Cod who died in 1662 family tree.
Remember John Hinckley that shoot Reagan?
Bush's cousin and VP Bush Sr. was sitting in daddy Hinckleys office in Denver waiting for the good news about Hinckley Jr's deeds that fell short.

It's not me that has made known the Family tree, and their Dream Act for a OWO which as you have shown goes a way back, but cousin Dicks wife.
This OWO goes back to Nimrod & the Plains of Shinar's tower of Bable.
I am mearly saying that if they are calling for it, and Jesus said that it was coming at the End of the Age, then you think maybe it is going to happen just as is stated?

As i have said Revelation 13; shows that this coming OWO is going to force every one into it's Union or they will not be allowed to perform any types of commerce.This is exactly what Iran & other nations like Greece are now being forced to comply or else.
This will eventually become a forced submission on all individuals in an effort to make them comply.
Not until this electronic age could such a thing be done to nations or individuals, but with the push of buttons people can be restricted from all forms of commerce.

Every one has the rights to accept what is being said daily in the news or reject it, i think i will accept it & try to warn others to get ready because it is in agreement with what Jesus said.
Have a GR8 day, and remember who loves ya.

northernlights
216
Points
northernlights 03/14/12 - 05:13 pm
0
1
troubled times

Yes we are in troubled times, we live in a fallen dark world but it doesnt change our powerful loving God. He promises to provide all our need, and even more than we can ask or think. Fear is an enemy, fear stops people from living their dreams, it brings on sicknesses, it encases people's lives. Someone has to love and bless others, someone has to teach his Word, which I do and love. We are saved from the wrath, so have no worry, it will come. We dont know when, but it will. Thess, we are saved from it. People have enough fear, they need to be taught how to get out of, just doin the best I can.

cheapersmokes
898
Points
cheapersmokes 03/15/12 - 11:17 am
0
0
Poverty!

Folks, I know of people that have been collecting unemployment for so long they now think it is their JOB!

Their is a wonderful way for all of us to make as big of an income as we desire without having to spend a single cent doing so. This company is now in pre launch phase with the launch scheduled for the 9th of April. It already has over 3.3 million members in 180 countries. The beauty of the program is that they are going to pay the members 50% of their profits each month based on the number of people they have brought into the company! They are figuring on each one being worth a dollar a month and you will never have to sell or buy anything either. They have been working on the patent pending websites since 2007 and have invested over 2 million so far. Face Book, Yahoo and Google make billions each quarter and they must of forgotten to send me a check for helping them get it. If you don't take advantage of this opportunity then you deserve what life has given you!

Send me an email to cheapersmokes@yahoo.com for the link to sign up and you will not ever regret it.

northernlights
216
Points
northernlights 03/15/12 - 11:56 am
0
0
Making money without money?

Thats a red flag right there. Nothing is free, someone has to pay for something.

Jerry
0
Points
Jerry 03/15/12 - 12:18 pm
0
0
Northernlights, your correct

Northernlights, your correct fear is a destroyer of life & the peace that we should be enjoying. Your also correct that we, the redeemed, shall escape the wrath to come, it's the others that i fear for that will not escape unless someone tells them how to do so.
I hope many will see whats coming & escape that wrath to come, but if it's just one, then all the angels of heaven will rejoice over that one. I would hope that people would see whats coming & be fearful to the point of running to the Only True Hope & Change that can save them from eternal wrath.

Every one has to make their own choices, but i have been commanded to share what i have in love, which is differant than a few which have no love, but only hate & death.

Have a GR8 Day, and remember JC loves ya and only wants to see you there, while other pretend saviors hate ya, and don't want to see you there with JC.

A question for all, where is your treasure & how secure is it? James 5:1-6

spwright
1376
Points
spwright 03/15/12 - 02:14 pm
0
0
Unemployment Benefits

Thur 3/15/12
News Flash, Unemployment is EARNED INCOME
Money is deducted from your Pay Check each & every month for years & years. The hope is that You never have to actually use that Unemployment Benefits.
You can not collect Unemployment unless You have worked in the 3 months prior to becoming unemployed.

So all of the above Rants against the unemployed do not have a Clue as to What They are Talking about.

The same thing applies to Social Security Benefits, that is NOT a Entitlement, that is EARNED RETIREMENT INCOME.
Money is deducted from your Pay Check each & every month for DECADES before you have the opportunity to receive Social Security.

There are literately MILLIONS of our fellow Americans that are Unemployed.

IF You have actual Proof that a fellow Alaskan is abusing the system then Turn Then In. Stand Up & Say Something.

SPW "Airborne"

Jerry
0
Points
Jerry 03/15/12 - 04:06 pm
0
0
Todays clarion has a GR8

Todays clarion has a GR8 cartoon on page A4 which shows our nations head Rooster clucking like a hen about laying the golden egg for private sector employments SUPPOSED RISE. IT's all him, It's all him! Ya got to love it.
Reality is that we are at around 18% or higher with unemployment, due in fact by those that have given up & their unemployment benifits have expired.
This of course is shown as a reduction in unemployed, when in fact it's a bold face lie of reality.

Jack Cafferty had a question on cnn today which asked what does it mean when families have to use their entire days wages for medical expences?
Answer; it means that Obamas Dream act of bringing Americans to our knees whith his SHARING EQUALLY PLAN has reached it's apex of causing us to depend on Big Govts. helping hand to survive since every one is now making $2.00 a day wages or less.

Have a GR8 Day, and rember OUR New State slogan of "Go BP,GO, AND EXXON TOO," and Tesoro needs to realize as well that we ain't none too happy wif dem either, or their price fixing.
Just think how many Alaskans we could put to work if all the out of staters was gone & we controled OUR oil sales?

cheapersmokes
898
Points
cheapersmokes 03/15/12 - 04:29 pm
0
0
Unemployment!

I do know quite a few people who lost their jobs due to no fault of their own. However, they have now decided to continue drawing the benefits instead of even looking for a job since they have adjusted their lifestyle to deal with the slight reduction in pay. As to the offer in my post above....it really is free for life since they are going to share all revenue with the members each month on a 50-50 basis, The sites will be much better than anything on the net also, The revenue will come from advertisers paying based on the number of page views they will receive each month or day or week. Why do you think Google, Yahoo and Face Book are free!

Send me an email to the link or be prepared to have someone kick you in the seat for the rest of your life for passing on your chance to get paid for life for doing one job, cheapersmokes@yahoo,com

kenai_kid
222
Points
kenai_kid 03/15/12 - 04:49 pm
0
0
Unemployment @ 18%

Jerry, there is no doubt that unemployment is higher than is being reported, but there is no possible way to determine just how much higher. The 18% figure seems to be a number someone pull out of their hat, but it's not. the BLS took all unemployment figures from 2007 to current, did some hypothetical math based on the number and percent of change in the unemployment claims numbers verses job development and economic growth numbers and made an educated guess at the actual numbers which figured to be about 14% (13.8% to be exact). However, even BLS uses the disclaimer that the number could be higher or lower, and that the only concrete numbers they have is what is based on new claims filed, dropped claims and the aggregate numbers resulting in the official tally.
My guess is, the total number of unemployed and under-employed is close to if not slightly higher than your figure. But again, there is no rock solid science of proving it.
As for "Obamas Dream act of bringing Americans to our knees whith his SHARING EQUALLY PLAN:" At one time in our country there was a progressive income tax that ranged from 10% to 91%. It wasn't something that was short lived, nor was is simply the democrats raising the taxes on the wealthy. It was instituted by a Republican and ironically the reductions in tax were started with a Democrat and finished with Reagan when our current six tax brackets were instituted..
A book for you to consider: "Winner Take All Politics" by Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson. It's a pretty good read about tax structure and debt as related to GNP.

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