Alaska sees first population growth in 4 years

Published: Jan. 10, 2022 at 8:00 AM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - For the first time in four years, Alaska is seeing a population increase. According to the latest report from the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, the state gained 932 people from April 2020 to July 2021.

“This might not sound like a lot, but it breaks a streak of four years of population losses that we’ve seen recently,” State Demographer for the Department of Labor and Workforce Development David Howell said.

Alaska last saw a peak population size in 2016 at 743,000 residents, before dropping by 10,000 the next year. The department said the past year’s increase was accompanied by seeing fewer residents leaving Alaska.

“We think this is largely due to COVID,” Howell said. “People aren’t moving as much around the country and so people just didn’t move that much out of the state.”

Additionally, the state also saw a higher amount of people moving to Alaska. A large factor of this increase, Howell said, had to do with the F-35A Joint Strike Fighters unit being transferred to Fairbanks.

“We had a large number of troops associated with the F-35 movement come into the state with their families and this led to about an 1,800 person gain in the Fairbanks-North Star borough,” Howell said.

According to the report, Fairbanks experienced the largest population growth for the state, followed by Matanuska-Susitna Borough who saw a population increase of 1,724 people. Meanwhile, Anchorage saw the highest population decrease of 1,550 people.

However, Howell said that the past year’s population growth might be an outlier year.

“It’s not necessary we’re breaking the trend,” Howell said. “These are two events that aren’t likely to happen over the next year.”

Yet, Howell believes this past year did demonstrate real growth for the state.

“I do think that it’s real growth. I don’t think this will be revised down or anything. I think that these circumstances caused real growth,” Howell said.

However, he said that an accurate representation of the growth trend will not be available until July 2022 where the state can get a better reflection of what is going on without the factors of the past year playing into effect.

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