State reports low population growth

For the first time since 2016, Alaska’s population has increased, according to population estimates released Thursday by the state Department of Labor.

The state’s population grew by 932 people from April 2020 to July 2021, according to the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development. This 0.1% change increased the state’s estimated population from 733,391 to 734,323.

The modest growth is the result of several factors and some pandemic influence, said David Howell, state demographer.

“Our migration has changed a bit over the past year,” Howell said. “Four thousand fewer people left the state than the year before. We believe this is related to COVID, people are not moving as much. ”

So while nearly 4,400 more people left Alaska than they moved to Alaska from April 2020 to July 2021, about 5,300 more Alaskans were born than died during this period and a low population growth was observed. An influx of military personnel also helped, Howell said.

While natural growth – the number of births minus the number of deaths – was a clear positive, the pandemic was felt by an increase in the number of deaths.

“There was an increase of about 760 deaths last year,” Howell said. “It’s definitely related to COVID a bit. ”

He added. “Overall, with the natural increase, we were down almost 1,000 from the previous year.”

While the pandemic has caused hundreds of deaths, state data shows a smaller year-over-year increase in state-level deaths has been a trend for years.

“Since 2010, not counting this year, we’ve averaged an increase of 98 deaths per year,” Howell said. “Baby boomers are reaching age groups with higher death rates.”

Howell said that while births were on the decline, this is also a continuing trend, and it does not appear that the pandemic has significantly affected the number of births during this period.

Closer to home

Southeast Alaska saw a modest 0.23% population increase – 72,286 to 72,494 – during that time, according to state data. The district of Haines was the main driver with a population increase of over 18%, 534 people. Yakutat also saw growth, adding 35 people, according to state data.

However, these numbers probably do not reflect real growth.

Haines’ population increase is the result of an adjustment made by the state, Howell said. He said the 2020 census appeared to underestimate Haines’ population and that the data available for the state, including employment figures, school enrollments and permanent dividend claims to the Fund, suggests that the The state’s estimate – 2,614 people – is closer to the borough’s actual population.

“We don’t know exactly what happened, but we think that tally doesn’t reflect what’s going on there,” Howell said. “Really, it’s just kind of a correction that we think reflects more of the actual population of Haines,” Howell said.

Haines Borough Director Annette Kreitzer said state data would likely be used by the borough to challenge the census count in the future.

Other communities in the southeast, including the city and borough of Juneau, experienced small population declines. Juneau lost 100 people from April 2020 to July 2021, according to state data. Emigration explains this with 191 more people leaving the capital than entering it. Births exceeded deaths during this period to provide some natural population growth and to compensate for some migratory losses.

Despite several consecutive years of population decline, Juneau’s estimated population of 32,155 in July 2021 is slightly over 31,275 in 2010, according to state data.

The Hoonah-Angoon census area had the state’s highest median age at 49, according to the state’s labor department. It is in line with a regional distinction.

“The Southeast is definitely the oldest part of the state,” Howell said.

The biggest winners

While 21 of the state’s 30 boroughs lost population, a handful saw growth.

Fairbanks, which gained 1,860 people, saw the strongest growth, according to state data. It was followed fairly closely by the Matanuska-Susitna district, which added 1,724 people.

Anchorage suffered the biggest loss with 1,550 people, according to state data.

In the southeast, Juneau lost the most people, according to state data, but every area of ​​the southeastern population that was not Haines or Yakutat experienced larger negative growth rates.

Based on rates, Skagway at -2.42%, a loss of 37 people, was the most negative in the region. Juneau’s growth rate was -0.25%.

By the numbers

932 – The state’s population increases from April 2020 to July 2021.

18.2% – The population amount for the Borough of Haines increased from April 2020 to July 2021 following a state population estimate that differed significantly from the 2020 census.

100 – The population of the city and borough of Juneau decreased from April 2020 to July 2021.

91 – The amount by which births exceeded deaths in Juneau from April 2020 to July 2021.

0.23% – The amount for Southeast Alaska as a region increased from April 2020 to July 2021.

49 – The median age of residents of the Hoonah-Angoon census area, the highest in the state.

Data extracted from the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

• Contact Ben Hohenstatt at (907) 308-4895 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.