Labor Department notes decline in working age Alaskans

A new report from the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development says the number of working-age Alaskans has been declining for nine consecutive years, with people ages 18 to 64 down from 479,000 in 2013 to 449,000 in 2022.

The report included in the most recent issue of Alaska Economic Trends said both the number of Alaskans aging into and out of their working years and migration trends to and from the state have shifted over the past decade, reversing the historical growth pattern. Areas with a working-age decline have been grappling with labor shortages, slow or stagnant economic growth, less consumer demand, increased dependency ratios, and difficulty funding social programs.

Report author Eric Sandberg, a state demographer in Juneau, notes that until 2013, aside from the late 1980s oil bust, the working-age population of Alaska had been on a study upswing with the arrival of the oil economy. From 1970 to 1985 the number of 18 to 64-year-olds more than doubled – from 174,000 to 361,000 – as workers came to Alaska during construction of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline.

Meanwhile, the state’s dependency ratio has been rising. The dependency ratio is the number of non-working-age Alaskans – like children and seniors – per every 100 working-age Alaskans.

Sandberg identified the reasons behind the shrinking working-age group as net migration losses, the aging population, and deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic. The drop in the working-age population appears likely to continue through 2030, or at most any growth will be slight. This is due to the younger and larger half of the baby boomers creating a demographic gap as they age out of their working years, which will require more younger people to fill it, the report said.

The complete report is in the March issue of the Labor Department publication, and is online at