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Alaska seeing eight-year migration deficit, according to report

Published: Mar. 31, 2021 at 4:06 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - On Wednesday, March 31st, the Alaska Senate Finance Committee heard testimony from the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development about economic trends in Alaska.

These include net migration to the state from the lower-48, which has has been negative for eight straight years.

“What we mean by that is that if it’s negative, more people moved out of Alaska than into Alaska,” said Dan Robinson, Research Chief with the department.

Population change is driven by four factors - births, deaths, migrations in and migrations out. According to Robinson, Alaska’s population peaked at about 741,000 in 2016. “We’re down to about 729,000,” he said.

Robinson said this net loss isn’t because more people are leaving, but because fewer people are moving to Alaska. “This says something about the desirability people have of living in Alaska,” he explained, adding, “This is not a sign of a healthy economy, eight years in a row of negative net migrations.”

Two drivers of a healthy economy, according to Robinson, are “stability and certainty. The kinds of things that state government, at it’s best, offers, is stability and certainty. Businesses depend on it. Households depend on it. Parents with kids in public schools depend on it.”

He said, “We’re going through some of the things that young states go through, with infrastructure, and figuring out how to pay for state government.”

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