- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 17, 2017

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - Alaska’s population is climbing despite the fact that more people are moving away from the state than moving in.

According to a Department of Labor report released Thursday, Alaska’s population has grown slightly due to births, though net migration remains down, reported KTOO-FM (https://bit.ly/2jjUZ4R ).

According to Alaska’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development, the state’s population went up by more than 2,600 people last year. The increase can be attributed to the fact that there were almost 7,000 more births than deaths. The population increases were in the Anchorage and Mat-Su areas.

Net migration - the number of people moving to Alaska minus those leaving - has been on the decline for the last six years.

State economist Neal Fried said the stream of people leaving Alaska isn’t entirely to blame on recent economic downturns, as people were leaving before oil and gas prices plummeted, hurting the state economy.

“This net out-migration started three or four years ago,” Fried said. “And at that time our economy was still doing relatively well. The change that occurred was the national economy started to do very well.”

Fried says areas like the Pacific Northwest often supply people to move to Alaska, but as that region is currently hot economically, fewer people are leaving. Generally, the Lower 48 is recovering from the recession, making Alaska’s current economy look weak in comparison.

Southeast Alaska saw the largest population losses. State Demographer Eddie Hunsinger said that is in part due to deaths.

“Southeast Alaska does have an older population, and that’s not something particularly new,” Hunsinger said. “But that older population goes along with typical population losses for Southeast Alaska.”

Despite the variances in last year’s population numbers, both Hunsinger and Fried said the figures are in line with typical natural growth and migration patterns.

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Information from: KTOO-FM, https://www.ktoo.org

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