Change in projected population for Southeast Alaska

    There's been a change in the projected population for Southeast Alaska in a report released recently by the State Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

    Posted Wednesday, May 11th, 2016 10:30am by Colt Dylan

    There's been a change in the projected population for Southeast Alaska in a report released recently by the State Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

    The report projects what the population will be 30 years from now in 2045.

    Since it's release the numbers for Southeast Alaska have been altered, according to State Demographer Eddie Hunsinger, "Southeast is going to remain roughly flat. I had incorrectly noted previously that Southeast was going to lose a little bit of population, a few hundred, but we had a minor adjustment at the end regarding a group or population for Sitka and so that actually pushed it over a little bit higher than the current population but really it's essentially flat."

    The areas projected to grow the most are located in the Southcentral part of the state, "The regions that will grow the most are the Mat-Su region for sure. These follow sort of the recent history and Mat-Su has been by far the biggest high growth area for this state. Other areas with significant growth would be in the Kenai Peninsula and also just because Anchorage has a big population numerically it should add a lot of folks just through births minus death."

    Hunsinger says the projected population will be closer to a million three decades from now, "Right now we're at 735,000 Alaskans roughly and the middle projection is in 2045 with 899,000 Alaskans, so about 900,000 Alaskans."

    The low projection calls for a dip to  nearly 642,700.   The high end projection says the population could go beyond a million to nearly one million, 248 thousand.

    Even though such projections are difficult to make, the state demographer says the report is an important planning tool, "Even though there is a lot of uncertainty about the total population we can know certain things about age structure and distribution across the state. No matter in the high, middle, or low scenarios we still see these things play out. It definitely as we go further and further out the estimates, projections, and different scenarios get further apart as we use pretty broad scenarios. In the short term though they're not so far apart and they can be particularly useful if someone thinks we're sort of in a low scenario environment for five years or something, they can definitely look at the low scenario and learn about how that would play out. We also did a special appendix on if the last thirty years of migration repeated for the state and how that would look. That last thirty years starts with 1985 and of course saw a big economic recession in Alaska in '86 to '88 so we see what the effect of a major drop, the biggest historically economic drop, for Alaska would be. Right now we're at 735,000 and even if we saw that major event play out again in the exact same way, so it's is sort of particular, but if we did see that we would be above 735,000."

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