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Alaska may need 30,000 new workers by 2030.

Jobs Growth

There are more than 10,000 posted and unfilled jobs in Alaska today. The economy is growing. An estimated 5,400 new jobs will be created in 2024 and more than 5,000 more will be needed in 2025. Alaska is poised to have more than $20 billion in new infrastructure and resource development projects by 2030. An additional 20,000 new workers may be needed to complete those projects. 

Economic and Workforce Outlook Statewide by Industry


Workforce Decline

At the same time, Alaska’s workforce is shrinking for three related reasons.

1)  Alaska’s workforce is aging. The percentages of those aged 18 and those aged 65 are equal.

2)  More than 50% of high school graduates leave Alaska – and most do not return.

3)  Out-migration has exceeded in-migration for 11 consecutive years. Only West Virginia and Wyoming lost a larger share of their working-age populations over the same decade. 

Table 1: Population Change by Age -
Alaska vs U.S. 2012-2022
Age Group Alaska US
Under 18 -4.1% -1.5%
18-24 -16.8% -0.4%
25-54 -5.7% +2.3%
Over 54 +27.7% +22%
Source: ADOLWD and US Census Bureau American Community Survey



Alaska’s 11-year streak of net migration losses is the longest in state history. Alaska’s workforce participation rates decreased from 67% to 65%. Working age residents (18 – 64) declined over the past decade by 30,000, from 479,000 (Table 1). Alaska’s age gap difference exceeds that of the projected US population. The decline in working-age Alaska residents will slow but continue through 2030.


As the map below shows, the working-age decline spans most of the state, with the 18-64 population down in 26 of the 30 boroughs and census areas between 2013 and 2022.



Alaska  map shows workforce shrinkage across state.

Anchorage losses account for around 60 percent of the drop statewide (nearly -18,000). While some moved to the nearby Matanuska-Susitna Borough, whose 18-to-64 population grew by more than 5,300, the overall working-age population of the Anchorage/Mat-Su Region fell by nearly 12,600.

The three other urban boroughs declined as well: Fairbanks North Star (-6,100), Juneau (-2,100), and Kenai Peninsula (-1,800). One other borough, Kodiak, lost more than 1,000 working-age people while the Prince of Wales-Hyder and Yukon-Koyu-kuk census areas, Sitka, and Ketchikan lost more than 600 each.

Many of the rural losses stand out when looking at the percent change. Four areas saw their 18-to-64 populations decline by over 20 percent (Wrangell, the Lake and Peninsula Borough, the Bristol Bay Borough, and the Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area). The Copper River and Prince of Wales-Hyder census areas lost over 15 percent of their 18-64 populations.

The urban declines were roughly even percentwise, at -9 percent for Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Juneau and -5 percent for the Kenai Peninsula Borough. Mat-Su’s working-age group, meanwhile, grew 9 percent. Regionally, all six lost working-age population. Southeast’s loss was largest at -11 percent, followed by the Interior (-10 percent), Gulf Coast (-7 percent), Anchorage/Mat-Su (-5 percent), Southwest (-4 percent), and Northern (-3 percent).

The Response

It starts with a Strategic Workforce Plan to:

  • Develop a workforce compatible with the diverse needs of Alaska's employers and workers.
  • Build talent pipelines that recruit, educate and train Alaskans for occupations in high demand.
  • Reduce the outmigration of Alaska talent.
  • Strengthen economic development through workforce development in every region.



Every industry and public employer in every region of the state needs more workers. This website is designed to inform the public about the workforce challenge and provide you an opportunity to let the Workforce 2030 planners know what you think. We encourage you to participate in this discussion.  Please take the time to provide comments here or go to the Interest Groups page and put your comments in the relevant tab. Please join this important conversation.

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Page Comments

Anonymous (not verified) Apr 05, 2024

Given all the billions in federal dollars that are coming Alaska's way and the shrinking workforce, it's hard to see how we will get on track to fill all those jobs! It's like watching a slow motion train wreck. It's an all hands on deck emergency in many ways. We need to focus on creative solutions. And fast.

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