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Study: Alaska is failing to keep most Alaska-born residents

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Study: Alaska is failing to keep most Alaska-born residents

Sep 14, 2023 | 10:52 pm ET
By James Brooks
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Study: Alaska is failing to keep most Alaska-born residents
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Girl Scouts bring the Alaska and American flags into the chambers of the Alaska Senate on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023, as the Senate convenes at the state Capitol in Juneau. (Photo by James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)

More than half of Alaskans born within the state have moved away, according to an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. 

A state’s ability to retain native-born residents is an indicator of its economic health and attractiveness, and Alaska ranked near the bottom of the analysis conducted by University of North Florida professor Madeline Zavodny and two experts at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

Using data from the Census Bureau’s 2021 American Community Survey, they found Alaska retained 48.7% of those born inside its borders, ahead of only Wyoming (45.2%) and North Dakota (48.6%).

At the opposite end of the scale, Texas retained about 82% of its native-born residents, followed by North Carolina, Georgia, California and Utah.

The study noted that the five “stickiest” states — those able to keep their residents — each had above-average job growth between 2010 and 2019, and four of the top five states had below-average levels of taxation.

The new study corroborates familiar trends in Alaska, where the number of people moving out of the state has exceeded the number of new residents for 10 consecutive years. 

A long-term study conducted by the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development found that in 2021, just 52% of Alaska high schoolers who graduated in 2005 were still state residents.

The Department of Labor’s next scheduled population and migration estimates are due to be released in January.