The last time the nation was a recession, 2006-2010, the number of people moving to Alaska hit a ten-year high. More recent movers to the state, however, are not staying as long as they once did, despite the third-highest availability of jobs in the state’s history. (Flickr photo/Bill Smith)

People are leaving Alaska at a rate generally faster than they have over the past thirty years, but it’s not because there’s a lack of work.

Rather, there are more job openings in the state now than in recent memory – just fewer people to fill them.

View the August issue of “Trends” from the Alaska Department of Labor.

The data on out-migration are from the August issue of Trends, the monthly report of the Alaska Department of Labor.

Alaska has the relatively unique ability to track the length of time people remain in the state, thanks to Permanent Fund Applications. And with the exception of residents who were either born in Alaska, or turned eighteen here, people have been staying less and less time since the 1990s.

Some of the drops are precipitous. In the 1990s, just over half of people who moved to Alaska in their thirties stayed here at least 10 years. Lately, however, that’s fallen to about 40-percent. There’s a similar decrease for people who move to Alaska in their forties, although about 5-percent more of them make it to the 10-year mark.

In good times and bad, roughly 27,000 people move to Alaska every year, and about 5,000 of them are children. Both those numbers have dipped recently, and demographers attribute that to an overall decline in the birthrate in the United States, so fewer people with children are headed to Alaska.

It’s demographic changes – rather than employment prospects – that are likely behind the numbers. The same issue of Trends shows that the number of job openings in Alaska is near an all-time high, and rates were climbing even before the pandemic.

The rate of job openings in Alaska is nearly double the national average, although both numbers are going up.

Demographics likely play a role here, too, with a significant number of vacancies being created by the departure of Baby Boomers born between 1946 and 1964, and simply not enough younger workers to replace them.

Employers are generally adapting to the new environment, in ways that could ultimately benefit the economy. The authors of Trends speculate that given the difficulty of hiring staff, employers may be much less likely to let them go if the economy takes a downturn, softening the impact of a recession, were one to occur.