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Census Counts 733,391 Alaskans, 3.3% Growth

Alaska’s population increased 3.3% in the last decade, according to the official U.S. Census count that was released Monday. The data were for state populations only; more specific geographic details won’t be released until August. Alaska’s representation to Congress will not change.

The official Census count for people living in Alaska is 733,391. That’s 1.3 people per square mile, and the least dense of all 50 states.

Alaska gained 23,160 folks in the last ten years. The 2010 Census recorded 710,231.

We still have only enough people to warrant one Congressional district. There are five other states that also have small populations and get only one congressperson. But as of this count, Alaska is the third most-populous state with more people than Wyoming, Vermont and the District of Columbia.

At Monday’s national release announcement, Michael Cook of the Census Bureau’s Public Information Office says regional totals are not being released until August.

“The set of data that we released today is only down to the state level, as far as the geography is concerned. But there will be more to come, and more details to follow as we disseminate the results of the 2020 Census.

It won’t be until then to examine which parts of Alaska gained or lost population, or more details like age, sex and race.

David Howell is Alaska’s State Demographer. He uses databases that track birth, death, and migration trends to figure out how many people live in Alaska.

“Our estimate for 2020 was 728,903, so right about 729,000, basically. A little bit higher than ours – about 4,500 higher.”

That’s half of one percent. He says he’s happy that his research and the Census numbers are so close.

“Always would like to be closer. We are looking forward to seeing the more detailed data, so we can see where is this population that we might’ve missed. Are they in group quarters? Are they in the Matsu? Are they in Western Alaska? When we get a hold of a little more detailed data, we can dive into this a little bit more.”

The 2020 Census was greatly challenged by the pandemic. At today’s release announcement, Dr. Ron Jarmin, the Census Bureau’s acting director, recalled the nationwide count started in Alaska.

“The count began in January 2020, in the small Alaskan village of Tooksook Bay. On March 12, invitations to respond to the Census begin to arrive in mailboxes across the country. Less than a week later, states across the nation began to impose stay-at-home orders. Immediately, we knew we needed to adapt.”

The Census postponed the door-to-door follow up for months. In Alaska, broadcast advertising and social media asked people to fill out Census forms. Census officials say in spite of setbacks, they think the count is accurate to within one percent.

When regional totals are released later this fall, the State’s 5-person Redistricting Board can begin to look at Alaska’s 40 state legislative districts, to see how they might be re-drawn based on populations shifts.

The total US population, by the way is 334,735,155.