Anchorage population expected to increase in 2023, the first time in 7 years

A man dressed in a grey suit with a purple tie discuses the three-year economic outlook at the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation luncheon held at the Dena'ina Center.
Bill Popp, president and CEO of the Anchorage Economic Development Corp., discusses the three-year economic outlook at the luncheon held in the Dena’ina Center on Aug. 2, 2023. (Adam Nicely/Alaska Public Media)

The Anchorage Economic Development Corp. is predicting the city will see a slight increase in population this year, for the first time since 2016.

In his final address as president and CEO of AEDC, Bill Popp on Wednesday laid out a three-year outlook for Anchorage, covering a variety of economic sectors.

“In 2023, AEDC projects that Anchorage will finally, after a long period of decline, turn the corner on population loss,” Popp said. “And we’ll see a whopping 0.3% increase in overall population.”

Popp said the main drivers behind the predicted population increase are a recent spike in births and a decline in deaths.

But Popp said the city is still facing a shrinking workforce. He said due to surging demand for jobs and a decline in working age adults, there have been about twice as many jobs posted this year as there are available workers in the Anchorage and Mat-Su area.

Popp pointed to a shortage of housing as the primary obstacle to attracting more workers, saying that there were only 180 single family homes built last year, the lowest level in a decade.

“If we are to attract and retain the workers in all skill categories that Anchorage needs to maintain and grow the economy, our city must innovate rapidly and rapidly implement new housing policies and initiatives to overcome our housing shortage,” Popp said.

Aside from population factors, Popp highlighted historically high average personal income, decreasing inflation, and continued growth in tourism as positive trends. He also predicted a potential long-term uptick in oil production from the Pikka and Willow projects.

Popp will step down as AEDC president and CEO late this year.

Editor’s note: Bill Popp is a member of Alaska Public Media’s board of directors.

Michael Fanelli reported on economics and hosted the statewide morning news at Alaska Public Media. 

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