Census results show Fairbanks’ population grew, largely due to military transfers | Alaska News
Fairbanks North Star Borough’s population increased slightly between April 2020 and July 2021, according to data released by the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development Census Bureau.
The slight increase of a tenth of a percent was largely due to military transfers to Eielson Air Force Base under the base’s F-35 program, according to state demographer Dave Howell. Overall, Fairbanks North Star Borough’s population grew by 1,860 people in 2021.
“Fairbanks was the fastest growing borough in the state,” Howell said. “We’ve seen a big increase in the military population there.”
After Fairbanks North Star Borough, the next area to expand was Matanuska-Susitna Borough, which gained 1,724 people.
Howell said the state has also seen a decrease in outward migration largely due to the pandemic.
Alaska has seen a steady trend in people leaving the state since at least 2013. The state’s population peaked at 743,000 in 2016, but the total number of people leaving exceeded those moving in. Alaska.
The 2020 U.S. Census estimate for people leaving Alaska 44,674 fell to 40,544 in 2021, based on data released Thursday by the state Department of Labor. The number of people moving to Alaska has remained steady at just over 37,000 people.
“We’ve had 4,000 fewer people leaving the state, because of Covid,” Howell said. “A lot of it has to do with things like people being far away or a lot of people not traveling as much.”
Howell said the population gain should not be seen as a reversal of the state’s trend of losing people.
“It’s hard to say, but right now it’s a unique circumstance. We don’t expect a big increase in population and Covid won’t last for years. Howell said. “We expect next year’s estimates to be very telling in June.”
The state tracks population growth between U.S. Census counts in part to use for its workforce development. Local governments use the state date to forecast student enrollment and road demands, while businesses use it to take the pulse of local needs and demands.
“We use the data to create the projections and base it on US Census data because that’s the gold standard,” Howell said.