Alaska population grows for second consecutive year

Alaska saw, for the second year in a row, a population growth.
Published: Jan. 10, 2023 at 6:05 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Department of Labor and Workforce Development reported a population growth of 450 people In the fiscal year 2022.

Department of Labor and Workforce Development State Demographer David Howell said that 2022 is the second year in a row where Alaska has gained residents — breaking a trend of four consecutive years of population decline from 2016 to 2020.

“We were pretty surprised, honestly,” Howell said. “The PFD numbers were down considerably. I think year over year, the Permanent Fund dividend applications were down by 10,000.”

Howell said that last year there was a potential that the fiscal year growth from 2021 was an outliner year. Factors, such as the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter Group being unit being transferred to Fairbanks. Now, Howell said, he is unsure.

“It’s really tough to say. We still had some movement of troops going into Eielson over the last year, but not nearly as much as the previous year,” Howell said. “But what we really saw was just this pent-up demand of movers.”

Domestic migration, Howell noted, also spiked across the country within the past year — especially in Alaska. In the 2022 fiscal year, the state saw their highest in-migration numbers since 2013. Yet, again, Howell said he is unsure if this will be an ongoing trend.

“It is tough to say if this will continue because again, just trying to differentiate an actual population trend from the post-pandemic kind of re-opening of things and that sort of thing,” Howell said.

Additionally, Howell said that the state saw a high death rate linked to the COVID-19 Delta variant during the 2022 fiscal year.

“Alaska generally grows from, what we refer to as natural increase — which is where births outnumber deaths — and in this most recent period our deaths have been quite elevated,” Howell said. “So we didn’t grow as much from natural increase as we have traditionally, and so we think that will kind of return back to normal going forward.”

That, intertwined with the lowest birth rate Alaska has seen since the 1950s, kept the population down.