JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska’s population has declined for a second consecutive year, dropping by 1,608 people to a total of 736,239, according to a state report.
A report released Thursday by the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development shows 7,577 residents left as Alaska gained 5,969 people from July 2017 to July 2018, the Juneau Empire reported .
Some residents left to pursue job opportunities outside the state as unemployment rates in the state have consistently topped 6 percent in the last two years. Alaska has the highest unemployment rate in the country at 6.3 percent as of November.
The national average was 3.7 percent in November, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
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Many residents tend to head to Washington state, where the unemployment rate was at 4.3 percent in November.
The decline was slower than the year before. The state’s population decreased by 2,629 people from 2016 to 2017, marking the first decline in 29 years.
The largest population losses were recorded in Anchorage and the Fairbanks North Star Borough.
Anchorage’s population fell by 2,386 people, bringing the total down to 295,365. The Fairbanks area lost 734 people, bringing the population to 97,121.
The Matanuska-Susitna Borough continues to be the fastest growing region of the state, adding 1,355 people. It now has 105,743 residents.
Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire, http://www.juneauempire.com