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FAIRBANKS (AP) — Alaska’s population grew in the past two years with nearly every region gaining population.
The state’s population grew 3.1 percent from 2010-12, with an estimated 732,298 people living in Alaska. That’s nearly twice the growth rate of the U.S. as a whole, which grew up 1.7 percent during the same period.
The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported that the highest growth area in Alaska, in terms of total population, was the Anchorage/Mat-Su region. The area added about 17,000 residents during the past two years, an increase of about 3.1 percent. That included in-migration of about 7,700 new residents.
The Juneau area had a growth rate of 5 percent, adding more than 1,500 new residents. About 1,000 of that population boost was because of in-migration, according to state statistics. Southeast Alaska as a whole gained 2,759 residents, ahead of the Alaska Gulf, southwest and northern areas.
The Ketchikan Gateway Borough population is listed at 13,939, up 3.4 percent from the 13,477 noted in 2010. 2012’s was the highest population in the borough since 2000, when the figure stood at 14,067, only a few years after the Ketchikan Pulp Co. mill closed at the end of 1997.
Metlakatla saw an increase of 58 people between 2010 and 2012, from 1,405 to 1,463. That’s a 2.2-percent hike.
Prince of Wales Island and Hyder, with a 2012 population figure of 5,771, was up slightly from 2010, when the number was 5,559, though down a bit from 2011 (5,812). But 2011 had seen an uncharacteristically large jump. Beginning with the year 2000, POW/Hyder population went down for seven consecutive years, then began rising slightly, 2008 through 2011.
Almost every region of the state gained population during the past two years. Only Skagway, Yakutat and the Bristol Bay Borough were listed with fewer people, and none of them had a population dip of more than 40 people.
The News-Miner reported that the population of the Fairbanks North Star Borough cracked the 100,000 milestone, but it’s not because of an influx of newcomers from outside the area. It’s because of babies.
Statistics released by the Alaska Department of Labor show that the Fairbanks area gained about 2,800 new residents between 2010 and 2012. That’s an increase of 2.8 percent, and is attributable to births.
The state estimates the Fairbanks area had a small loss in terms of net migration, with 46 more people leaving the Fairbanks area than moving in during the past two years.
State demographer Eddie Hunsinger said it’s a common situation in Fairbanks, which has long had a highly transient population fueled by its heavy military presence.
"In general, Fairbanks has usually had close to zero net migration, but with these big flows in and out," Hunsinger said.
The high local birth rate is attributable to the types of residents who are entering and leaving the area. Residents in their 50s and 60s make up the bulk of departing residents, while those in their 20s and 30s make up most of the people moving into the area.