Alaska Population Projections 2015 to 2045 - P.O.W. Report

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Alaska Population Projections 2015 to 2045

[To find the full massive in depth study click here]

[Editor's Note:] I don't take population projections (or any projections of the future) very seriously because so many things can change in the course of a few years---let alone 30 years---remember that we had two World Wars in a span of 30 years. None the less, it's fun to have "what if scenarios." This Projection is 107 pages long but I will just give highlights of the State and focus on Southeast Alaska. The following are directly taken from the study:

As of July 1, 2015, Alaska’s estimated population was 737,625. Population change has four distinct processes, or components: fertility, mortality, in-migration, and out-migration. We used historical data on each of these components to create these projections.

Alaska’s Population Growth

Table 1.4 displays projections of the levels of population growth in Alaska from 2015 to 2045 and the outcome of different growth levels on the projected statewide population. With the expected increase in deaths relative to births, it’s likely the growth rate will decline over the projection period. The middle and high projection scenarios show overall increases for population while the low scenario projects a substantial loss in population. Figure 1.4 displays the different paths projected for Alaska’s total population through 2045. With time, the different scenarios for Alaska’s net-migration cause differences between projected populations to increase greatly.

The middle projection produces a population for 2025 of 802,352, growing to 854,104 in 2035 and reaching 899,825 by 2045. The low scenario has population dropping to 642,697 by 2045, and the high has it increasing to 1,247,887 people.

Alaska Native Population Projections

This section presents projections for the Alaska Native population by age and sex from 2015 through 2045. We created these projections based on our estimate for the number of Alaska Natives who are Native alone or in combination with one or more other races. While all Native Americans residing in Alaska are included in the Native projections, this group is almost entirely Alaska Native and will be referred to here as Alaska Native.

The Alaska Native population represents approximately 20 percent of the state’s population. With high fertility and relatively low rates of migration, population growth is steady for Alaska Natives. Be aware, though, that we based these projections on recent rates, which will vary somewhat over time

The Alaska Native population is projected to grow steadily through 2045, from 143,868 in 2015 to 184,561 in 2045. Further,we project Alaska Natives to slightly increase their share of Alaska’s total population, from 19.5 percent in 2015 to 20.5 percent in 2045. Annual births and deaths for Alaska Natives are both projected to increase over the period, however,we expect births to be consistently higher than deaths.


Aging will play an important role in population change for Alaska Natives over the projection period, as their median age is projected to rise from 27.3 to 29.8. The proportion of the Native population aged 65+ is projected to increase greatly between 2015 and 2045, rising from 7 percent to 12 percent.

Southeast Alaska

Special Scenario: A repeat of the last 30 years of migration

This appendix provides a special scenario that repeats the time series of 1985 to 2015 annual net-migration ratios for the projected period of 2015 to 2045. The methods, age profiles, and fertility and mortality indices we applied for this scenario are the same as those used for the statewide high, middle, and low scenarios — the only difference is the time series of inputs for the overall level of net-migration. This scenario is intended to show the sensitivity of future population to the annual shifts in net-migration, such as those Alaska has had in the past. It is not intended to predict future net-migration for Alaska.

The Historical Data

With new revenue from oil production after the completion of the Trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline, Alaska experienced a massive economic boom between 1980 and 1985. The state gained more than 75,000 people from net-migration alone over those five years. Then, with falling oil prices and an economic recession, net-migration fell precipitously with more than 40,000 more people moving from Alaska than to Alaska between 1985 and 1989.

Economic recovery followed, and with ups and downs from 1990 on, net-migration typically remained within plus-orminus 1 percent of the total population from year to year (see Figure A-1).
Notably, net-migration has been at approximately -1 percent for the last couple of years (2013 to 2014 and 2014 to 2015), and this has kept the state population essentially flat. If Alaska had experienced those same net-migration losses 30 years prior, when the population was younger and there were more births and fewer deaths, the state would still have gained more than 3,000 people annually.

Effect on Total Population

According to this special scenario for net-migration, Alaska’s population would drop to 704,607 in 2019, then increase by 17 percent to reach 824,654 in 2045 — 8 percent lower than the 899,825 middle scenario projection. (see Figure A-2 and Table A-2.) Annual net-migration would average -0.3 percent for the 30-year period, accounting directly for an average annual loss of 2,063 people, which would be counteracted by gains through natural increase (births minus deaths). Births and deaths for respective years would also be marginally lower than the middle scenario due to fewer people in the state (see Table A-1).

After the abrupt population loss and rebound at the beginning of the period, population growth would slow over time with population aging, which will yield relatively fewer births, more deaths, and smaller gains through natural increase. While the negative net-migration of the past couple of years has kept state population change near 0, when applied 30 years into the future, it yields population losses of more than 3,000 per year.

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