Losing our children: A snapshot of Alaska’s population loss

    School-age children now account for just 18% of Alaskans, down from a peak of 29.2% in 1970. The population of 5 to 17-year-olds has dropped drastically since 2000 after 50 years of strong growth. The March issue of Trends, published by the State of Alaska, cites lower birth rates, smaller generations, and negative net migration for the loss of children.

    From 1950 to 2000, children grew by more than 500%, Trends notes, as the state transformed from a small population that was “disproportionately unmarried young men to a larger state with more families.” Between 1950 and 1970, the number of Alaskans between 5 and 17 years old rose from less than 23,000 to nearly 88,000, reaching a peak of just over 29% of the state’s population in 1970. At that point, the school-age population dwindled as a population percentage but continued to increase in overall number through the 1990s.

    Numerically, the school-age population peaked in 1998 at more than 143,000. After this, the population declined each year throughout the 2000s, bottoming out at around 133,000 in 2009. While the group’s numbers ticked up slightly during the first half of the 2010s, peaking at 136,331 in 2017, they have declined since, and dropped below 135,000 in 2018.


    Most regions lost school-age kids since 2000. Only the Mat-Su Borough had a larger school-age population in 2019 than in 2000, with 48% growth over that span. Anchorage’s child population grew slightly in the early 2000s but dropped below its 2000 level in 2007 and is now at 92%.

    In the Gulf Coast, school-age populations in the Kenai Peninsula Borough and Valdez-Cordova Census Area both dropped quickly in the early 2000s and are now at around 85% and 71% of their 2000 numbers, respectively. Kodiak’s 2019 school-age population was just 76% of its 2000 level. Fairbanks is the only part of the Interior where the school-age population remains over 90% of what it was in 2000. Seven out of 10 boroughs in Southeast have school-age populations with less than 75% of their 2000 size. In Southwest, some areas have recovered to 90% of more of their 2000 levels, but other parts of the region are considerably down. The Bristol Bay Borough has just 42% of the kids it had 19 years ago. All three northern boroughs, however, have growing school-age populations after dropping from 2000 to 2010.


    • Alaska’s school age population is about 61% white, compared to 75% nationally.
    • The percentage of Alaska Native kids remains about the same since 1980 (22% to 23%), compared to a national average of about 2%.
    • The Asians/Pacific Islanders population grew the most since 1980, from about 2% of school-age kids to 10%.
    • The percentage of black children has doubled in Alaska since 1980, from 3% to 6%, still smaller than the national average of 17%.
    • The share of Hispanic kids in Alaska stands at 9%, but they make up a quarter of school-age kids nationwide.
    • About 14% of Alaska kids speak a different language at home.

    Click here to read the full report from Trends.

    Click here to support the Alaska Watchman.

    Joel Davidson
    Joel Davidson
    Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 20 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.

    Share this article

    Related articles


    1. 21654 183649The next time I learn a weblog, I hope that it doesnt disappoint me as significantly as this one. I mean, I do know it was my choice to read, nevertheless I really thought youd have something attention-grabbing to say. All I hear is really a bunch of whining about something that you could fix for those who werent too busy in search of attention. 775731

    Leave a reply

    Please enter your comment!
    Please enter your name here


    Alaska Watchman relies on the generous support of our readers. All donations go directly to supporting and expanding our news coverage. Please consider becoming a regular supporter.

    Select a Donation Option (USD)

    Enter Donation Amount (USD)


    Personal Info

    Donation Total: $100.00

    Stay Informed

    Receive breaking stories and analysis from the Alaska Watchman directly to your inbox for free.

    No spam ever. Guaranteed.

    Latest articles

    With Alaska’s chief justice to retire in 2021, judge selection process must be fixed

    Chief Justice Joel Bolger will retire from Alaska’s Supreme Court on June 30 next year, creating yet another vacancy on Alaska’s highest...

    Moving Gov. Dunleavy off the fence

    Gov. Mike Dunleavy has squandered his political capital and mandate through fits and starts. To be sure, he has faced unprecedented problems...

    Retired Lieutenant General to Alaska: Biden is coming for our guns

    With every passing day it appears more likely Joe Biden will become our next president. From the illegal vote counting, vote harvesting,...

    Alaska can solve budget crisis by ending unconstitutional appropriations

    “Defunding power cost equalization would gut a lifeline for rural Alaska” was published by ADN on Nov. 10. Meera Kohler expertly laid...

    News tips