Latest census numbers sketch portrait of area households and lifestyles

Kenai Peninsula life by the numbers

Posted: Wednesday, June 13, 2001

The U.S. Census Bureau has released more information about the Kenai Peninsula from its 2000 national head count.

Details of ages, gender, ethnicity, household types and occupancy rates are now available for every census defined place (CDP). Tables of the results are available free on the Internet.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough administration plans to use the information to update its comprehensive plan, said Planning Director Bob Bright.

"Deciding how we are going to do it is what we are doing right now," he said.

The data will be useful in planning for economic development, business markets, service needs and schools.

"You name it, you could probably find a use for it," he said.

Betsy Arbelovsky, director of the Kenai Peninsula Economic Development District, said she has referred to the new census numbers in conjunction with recent economic development forums conducted around the peninsula. For example, when the aging of the peninsula population came up, she was able to confirm that the trend is real.

"I think it is very helpful information," she said.

But she urged people to take the numbers with a grain of salt, because the economy of the area changes so rapidly.

"We have all kinds of things going on on the peninsula that wouldn't necessarily be reflected in these numbers. The Kenai Peninsula is a happening place."

More census information will become available over the next year. Still to come are numbers about income, employment and more economic details.

Here are some of the facts gleaned from the new reports posted at the end of May:

n The average age on the Kenai Peninsula in 2000 was 36.3 years. The place with the oldest average age was Halibut Cove; the youngest was Fox River, site of Russian Old Believer villages at the head of Kachemak Bay, with an average age of 14.8 years.

n Men still outnumber women in this part of the Last Frontier. The borough's population is 52 percent male and 48 percent female. The area with the highest percentage of men was Salamatof, with twice as many guys as gals. The only places with women in the majority were Ridgeway; the areas of Crown Point and Primrose (between Moose Pass and Seward) and within the city limits of Soldotna, Kenai and Homer.

n The peninsula is racially diverse, although a large majority (86 percent) of residents define themselves as white. About 1,900 define themselves as of mixed race, more than half of whom are part Alaska Native or American Indian.

Of those who listed themselves as Hispanic, most are of Mexican ancestry. Of those listed as Asian, the most common ethnic origins are Filipino and Korean. Of those with Pacific Island background, most are of mixed race and the most commonly cited ethnicity was Hawaiian.

The most white census area was the Fox River, with only one person out of 615 listing their race as "other."

Seward had the most African Americans (69), and Kenai the most Hispanics (265) and Asians (115).

The most Native census area was the Athabaskan village of Tyonek on the west side of Cook Inlet, which listed 184 Natives and nine whites.

The peninsula's largest Native community is Kenai, with 607 people who listed themselves as Native and another 235 listed as part Native.

n The peninsula has 24,871 housing units, according to the census. Of those, 74.1 percent were occupied (on the April 1 count day); 18.3 percent were vacant and for seasonal, recreational or occasional use; and the other 7.6 percent were just vacant. The vacancy rate on rental properties was 14.4 percent.

The place with the highest percentage of vacation homes was Halibut Cove (84.6 percent). Other communities with high percentages were Sunrise (64 percent), Seldovia (61 percent), Ninilchik (54.5 percent), Funny River (49.4 percent) and Cooper Landing (48.5 percent).

The place with the highest occupancy rate was the city of Soldotna (87.7 percent). The lowest rates of rental vacancies were in the Homer area at Fox River (5 percent) and Diamond Ridge (5.1 percent).

n The peninsula has 18,438 "households," where 97.3 percent of the people live. Of those, 69 percent were classified as families, 55.4 percent were headed by married couples and 9 percent by women without husbands. About 7,000 households (38 percent) have children younger than age 18.

About 4,500 people live alone, of whom about 930 are senior citizens.

Asked about relationships, about 1,200 people lived with relatives other than spouses or children, and about the same number lived with "unmarried partners."

The peninsula had 1,328 people in group quarters, of whom 935 were institutionalized. Seward, the home of the Spring Creek Correctional Facility, had the highest count of institutionalized residents at 513.

n The average size of a household on the peninsula was 2.62 people. The average size of a family was 3.15 people. The largest average family size was 5.73 people at Fox River.

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