Anchorage has third highest median income of large cities

Posted: Monday, September 04, 2006

ANCHORAGE - Alaska's largest city has the third highest median household income of American cities with more than 250,000 residents, according to a recent report by the U.S. Census Bureau.

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An average household income of $61,217 puts Anchorage squarely behind San Jose, California, and Plano, Texas. The city's median household income grew by about $6,000 since the last report in 1999.

The census report says Alaska overall has the seventh highest median household income in the United States.

Neal Fried, a state economist, offered some insights on the reasons behind the data.

Many Alaska residents, namely those working in oil, construction, health care and government, have high incomes, but demographics do more to explain the city's standing, he said.

For one thing, he says, Alaska has comparatively few people older than 65. As retirees, they tend to have smaller incomes.

And because the state's population is younger, Fried says, there are more people in the work force. Many households in Anchorage also have more than one wage earner.

"When you add all those thing up together, it makes Anchorage a pretty prosperous community," Fried said.

Anchorage also has the third lowest poverty rate among larger cities, behind Virginia Beach, Va., and Plano, according to the census.

But Fried said the statistic does not account for the higher cost of living in Anchorage.

"If you were to adjust, Anchorage would still look good, but it wouldn't be in the third spot," he said.

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