SEDA report shows an aging Sitka


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Sitka’s aging demographics are in line with data for the state of Alaska as a whole. But knowing that the population is getting older – that more senior citizens are staying in Sitka than before – might present new opportunities.


For example, Sitka could see itself billed as a great place to retire, said Linda Wilson administrative assistant at the Sitka Economic Development Association, or SEDA.


“This is kind of like the Sun City of Alaska,” Wilson said. “We could actually develop a retirement industry, possibly. That’s just a theoretical idea.”


What’s not theoretical is that an aging population could require new services from Sitka’s economy, Wilson said.


“Even simple things, like having the sidewalks cleared and infrastructure that’s accessible, and doors that aren’t too heavy to open – all these things that seniors kind of require, there’s going to be more and more demand for that,” she said.


Unemployment in Sitka, meanwhile, was at 7.6 percent in March, up from 7.3 percent the March before, and 6.1 percent the March before that. The state and national unemployment rates, meanwhile, were closer to 10 percent in March of this year.


“Sitka’s actually not as bad off as a lot of places. Even though we’re feeling the pinch, we have to be thankful in a lot of cases for having a better economy.”


Other highlights of the report include housing data. In Sitka, four homes were sold in May of this year, at an average sale price of about $212-thousand dollars. The average LIST price of those homes was closer to half-a-million dollars.


In May of 2008, 10 homes were sold at an average price of $292-thousand dollars. The average list price two years ago was about $400-thousand dollars.


Also, the gap in food costs between Sitka and Anchorage is widening. For the first quarter of 2010, groceries in Sitka cost about 37 percent more than they do in Anchorage, compared to a 20 percent difference in 2008.


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