It’s not your imagination — there really are fewer people in Alaska than a couple of years ago.
According to the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, the state’s population dropped for the first time in 29 years.
We’re now at 737,080, down 2,629 since 2016. Out-migration has been negative for five years in a row, meaning that more people are leaving the state than moving in.
Last year at this time, the department announced that the state’s population had actually increased by 2,645 people—about one-third of 1 percent—from July 2015 to July 2016. Most of that came from babies being born.
New births are keeping the population from not falling faster, but they are not keeping up with the number of people who are moving out of the state.
Alaska’s job market is the worst in the nation, with unemployment remaining above 7 percent. As employable people move out of state, the demographic make-up will shift to both an older population, and a very young one, neither of which are part of the workforce.
Alaska lost 6,300 jobs in 2016, and 3,600 jobs in 2017. This year, another 1,800 jobs are projected to disappear, for a total of 11,800 jobs in three years.
The birth rate is the lowest it has been in over a decade, with 10,786 babies born in 2017. The number of deaths, 4,530, is the highest on record.
Here’s the breakdown on where Alaskans live:
SAM’S CLUB CLOSING IN ALASKA
Sam’s Club will close its Alaska locations on Jan. 26. The company has three stores in Alaska — two in Anchorage and one in Fairbanks. Today the stores are shuttered while the staff prepares for going-out-of-business sales. They’ll open tomorrow, and people who purchased membership cards can stop in and get their fees refunded.
Sam’s Club tweeted out the news: “After a thorough review of our existing portfolio, we’ve decided to close a series of clubs and better align our locations with our strategy. Closing clubs is never easy and we’re committed to working with impacted members and associates through this transition.”
Sams Club stores in other states will also be closing. The news came at the same time Walmart announced it will increase its hourly minimum wage to $11 and give bonuses of $1,000 to many of its workers.