Alaska senior population to triple by 2030, experts say

Posted: Thursday, November 15, 2007

ANCHORAGE - State demographers say Alaska's population will likely surpass the 800,000 mark sometime between 2025 and 2030. The largest age group will be seniors, they added.

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Demographers Greg Williams and Eddie Hunsinger offered their projections Nov. 1 to a packed crowd comprised of representatives of state, local and tribal businesses.

Williams and Hunsinger admitted it's difficult to predict the future population growth. But using a series of historical data and generally accepted practices, they predict that the senior population will more than triple, the combined Anchorage and Matanuska Valley region will continue to grow and the Southeast region will continue to decline.

Population figures show that the fastest-growing age group by the year 2030 will be those in the 65 years old and older group. This sector will triple, increasing from 45,391 in 2006 to 134,391 by 2030.

Anchorage and the Mat-Su are still the fastest growing areas in Alaska, with a combined population in 2006 of 359,987. That will likely grow to 488,553 by 2030.

"The fastest growing area in Alaska is the Knik/Fairview Loop area," Williams said.

Southeast projections show a different outlook.

"Southeast will not grow," Hunsinger said. "Every region in Alaska is growing with the exception of the communities there."

Southeast is comprised of Haines, Juneau, Ketchikan, Sitka, Skagway, Hoonah, Angoon, Wrangell Petersburg and Prince of Wales-Outer Ketchikan Census areas, as well as the Yakutat Borough. This area is showing a 7 percent decline in population.

"A lack of births and out-migration due to job losses in the timber industry are the factors that we think are responsible for this drop in population," Hunsinger said.

Southeast Region has a population of 70,053 today, and is predicted to drop to 65,073 by 2030.

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