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Dept. of Labor Releases New Stats on 20-Year Olds

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Young adults are an increasing proportion of Alaska’s population.  KDLG’s Chase Cavanaugh the story on some new demographic information about this group.

The Alaska Department of Labor has released new statistics about people in their 20s.  The report says the state has about 110,000 people between 20 and 29 years old.  State Demographer Eddie Hunsinger says this is about 25,000 more than in 2000, and currently a higher percentage than the country overall.

“About 15% of Alaska’s population is ages 20-29, versus 14% of the United States as a whole. We often have a little bit more people in their twenties because of our large military population.”

Geographically, about 60% of twentysomethings are centered in Alaska and Fairbanks, mostly due to the presence of state universities, major military bases, and opportunities for work.  Hunsinger says this urban migration is typical.

“A lot of folks will go to urban centers once they reach their twenties post high school, either for military service or for college education or to look to start their careers. But also in Northern and Southwest Alaska, where we just have large young populations in general, there are pretty high populations or people in their twenties.”

The North Slope and Northwest Arctic Boroughs have high proportions of people in their twenties at 16 and 17% respectively.  So do the Wade Hampton Census Area and Lake and Peninsula Borough, at 16% each.  The report notes these areas have consistently high birth rates and generally young populations.  The Aleutians East Borough is also notable, at 18%, due to the presence of many young seafood processors.

Hunsinger says young Alaskans are also more likely to go to college.

“I believe it’s 27% of Alaskans between 18 and 24 were enrolled in college or graduate school as of 2008 to 2012, and that’s up from 19% in 2000. That’s actually up quite a bit. The share with a bachelor’s degree or higher is also up from 20 to 21% in 2008 to 2012.”

The two surprises in the data, according to Hunsinger, were the rates of marriage and moving in with the family. 

“For the population ages 25 to 29, 37% had never been married in 2000, and that was up to 52% in 2008 to 2012, so that was sort of interesting. And the share who live with parents is up. It’s gone from 10% in 2000 up to 16% in 2008-2012.”

When asked if these statistics were a result of the difficulty in young people finding jobs, Hunsinger didn’t know for certain, but acknowledged that it could be a factor. 

The complete study can be viewed in the September issue of Alaska Economic Trends, which is accessible at the website of the Alaska Department of Labor.