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Alaska population growth stagnant outside Southcentral

Census expected to cost Southeast one or more legislative seats

Posted: Wednesday, January 27, 2010

New state population estimates show Juneau added 256 residents in the past year, but that still leaves the state's capital and third-largest city down slightly from the last census in 2000.

The numbers were released Tuesday by the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, which maintains population data for the state.

The state as a whole added more than 10,000 people, mostly in the population centers of Anchorage and the Mat-Su Borough, for a total population increase of 1.5 percent. In the rest of the state, population trends followed Juneau with either slow growth or no growth over the decade.

The nation's once-per-decade census is to be conducted this year, and will determine how accurate the estimates are. After the census, Alaska will go through the redistricting process, in which legislative boundaries are redrawn to match new population counts.

That process is expected to cost Southeast Alaska one or more legislative seats, a prediction that is confirmed by the new population estimates.

Juneau's population has remained almost even during the past decade, because a natural increase of 2,349 more births than deaths was outweighed by the migration of 2,399 residents out of town.

Those numbers are even starker throughout the rest of Southeast. A natural increase of 4,560 was overwhelmed by out-migration of 8,304 residents.

Most of Alaska's boroughs and census areas declined in population during the decade, with only 11 of 29 seeing population increases, said State Demographer Gary Williams.

"Outside the Anchorage/Mat-Su region, a majority of communities have flat or declining population growth," Williams said.

Several of the state's larger regional communities, including Juneau and the cities of Ketchikan, Kodiak and Barrow, all lost population over the decade.

• Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 586-4816 or by e-mail to patrick.forgey@juneauempire.com.



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