Haines keeps title of oldest borough in Alaska

Haines, Alaska. (Creative Commons photo by Alan Vernon)

If the old adage with “age comes wisdom” is true, then on average, Haines is the wisest of Alaska’s boroughs.

The state released 2017 data on population this week.

Haines retained its superlative status as the oldest borough.

Haines Borough has the highest average age in Alaska.

That’s according to new data released by Alaska’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

“Haines is notably the oldest borough in the state with a median age of 49.3,” said Eddie Hunsinger, the state demographer.

But that esteemed title is itself old news.

Haines became the oldest borough sometime between 1970 and 1980, Hunsinger said — with a median age all of 29.

Today? “The statewide median age is 34.9, somewhat lower than Haines’ median age,” Hunsinger said.

State demographers expect Haines’ age will peak in 2035 at 50.3. Hunsinger said the current population structure has a lot to do with history.

“When bureaus and census areas gain populations, they’re typically younger people — young workers in their 20s to 40s. The timing of when populations expanded can have an effect.”

And as they get older, people move less, Hunsinger said.

But there’s also more fluidity in Alaska’s population than most places.

About 6 percent of Alaska’s population both leaves and arrives each year, Hunsinger said. That turnover is even more dramatic in smaller communities.

“Haines Bureau, it’s even higher, because there’s in-state migration. It’s closer 10 percent, arrives every year and leaves each year. So there’s this big turnover happening.”

There were more births than deaths in the Borough last year — 19 babies, compared with 15 people who died.

But because of migration, the population still decreased a little, by about 3 percent.

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