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Wednesday, December 13, 2017
HomeAlaska NewsThank God for the babies, Alaska

Thank God for the babies, Alaska

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BABY IT’S OLD OUT THERE: Bring on the babies. If not for them, Alaska would be losing population. We’re getting older as a population, and our workforce is heading for the exits.

We can see the trouble brought on by a decline in population in any given province around the globe: Germany, Russia, or even Japan, which is losing population at an alarming rate. They just don’t have enough babies to replace all the old people and there’s this thing called sekkusu shinai shokogun, or “celibacy syndrome,” which has seemed to afflict many under 40.

Hawkins

We want none of that (we think) for Alaska Millennials.

Across Europe, low birth rates have caused countries to open the floodgates to immigrants from Islamic cultures, causing a heavy dose of friction between traditional Lutherans, Catholics, pagans, and atheists, and the dissimilar ways of the Muslim moving in next door.

HOLDING PATTERN: According to the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Alaska grew by just 2,645 people last year: That’s one-third of one percent. Or, as non-demographers might characterize it: Flat as a flounder.

During the past year, some 7,000 more people were born than died in Alaska, and that balanced the loss of those who moved south.

The reality is that working adults left the state in droves. About 6,800 Alaskans moved south, but thanks to babies, we are still a net gain. This year, we’re going to lose a lot more people — 7,500 jobs will disappear in 2017, the Labor Department tells us. Those families will likely move and the state will enter a net-loss condition.

Keep in mind, demographers work with rather old data. It is the nature of the discipline. After Labor revises its jobs numbers for the year, the picture could change. It may look rather different in the final analysis.

MIGHTY, FERTILE MAT-SU VALLEY: Alaskans owe a debt of gratitude to the Matanuska-Susitna Borough for stepping up on the population front, adding, almost remarkably, 2,069 people last year. That means other places are losing big time.

Juneau, for example, is underperforming in the birth-to-death ratio. For the past two years, Juneau has birthed about 400 babies per year, whereas 30 years ago, with a smaller population, there were 600 babies born per year.

So when we say the loss of population in Juneau was 400 in 2016, it means that for every baby born, two people either moved away or died.

Overall, according to the state number crunchers, all six of the state’s economic regions showed losses through net migration, which is the difference between people coming in and those going out.

The only thing saving us is the babies.

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Of course, nothing compares to the 35,000 net out-migration from Alaska between 1986-1988 in what was a reverse stampede at the time.

Thank goodness for the babies. Alaska has relied on zygots for population growth for the better part of 25 years.

 

Alaska is a relatively bright spot in population. There are several states that are actually as flat or shrinking, including:

  • New Mexico (0.03%)
  • Kansas (0.02%)
  • New York (-0.01%)
  • Mississippi (-0.02%)
  • Pennsylvania (-0.06%)
  • Wyoming (-0.18%)
  • Connecticut (-0.23%)
  • Vermont (-0.24%)
  • Illinois (-0.29%)
  • West Virginia (-0.54%)

MILLENNIALS, YOU HAVE A JOB TO DO: Today we stand at 739,828 strong, to be exact. We’re not getting any younger as a state, inching up from an average age of 33.8 in 2010 to 34.7 last year.

And since out-migration is exceeding in-migration, we’re going to be counting on those 20- and 30-somethings to do what they do best — provide the state with a few more young’uns.

And hurry up, Millennials, before your precious Millennial clock leaves us in a demographic downdraft.

 

(Complete estimates for population are found at http://live.laborstats.alaska.gov/pop.)

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Written by

Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

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