Alaska's population has declined for a second year in a row, according to a report released Thursday by the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Overall the state lost 0.2 percent of its population (1,608 people) between July 2017 and July 2018. 

Anchorage saw the biggest decrease, with a net loss of just over 1,000 people during that time. In contrast, the Mat-Su Borough gained more than 1,300 residents last year.

"Employment growth down south has been strong relative to here in Alaska, even going back several years, so when employment (rises) down south, they see more people are likely to leave the state, and go to new employment opportunities there, " said state demographer Eddie Hunsinger. "When employment opportunities are strong here, we'll probably gain population through migration."

Net migration — in-migration minus out-migration — accounted for a loss of 7,577 people between 2017 and 2018, while natural increase, or births minus deaths, added 5,969 people.

Only the Gulf Coast and Southwest regions gained population, including 287 and 14 people respectively. All six of Alaska's economic regions showed net migration losses.

Statewide, the number of children and residents of working age declined, while the number of senior citizens increased. Alaska's under 18 and 18-64 year-old populations dipped by 0.9 percent, while the 65 and older age group grew by more than 5 percent.

The aging of Alaska's population has come to be known as a "silver tsunami." For nearly a decade now, the state has had the fastest growing senior population in the nation, according to the Alaska Commission on Aging. The Commission projects the number of seniors in our state will more than double by the year 2042.

According to Thursday's report, Haines Borough's median age was the highest in the state at age 48. Kusilvak census area was lowest, with a median age of 24.

Dave Leval contributed information to this story.

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