Alaska’s senior population is growing rapidly. Why?

Construction workers at Baxter Senior Living, an Anchorage assisted living home scheduled to open in early Fall 2019. (Photo by Kirsten Swann / Alaska Public Media)

The senior population in Alaska is growing faster than any other state in the country.

State Demographer Eddie Hunsinger says the “rapid increase” is largely based on baby boomers turning 65.

Interview Highlights:

Impact of the baby boomer generation: “We have a rapidly-growing senior population and this will continue into the 2020s. And it’s really driven by a large number of baby boomers who moved to the state…who moved to Alaska in the 1970s and 80s, and sort of transformed the age structure of our state. And now in recent years, baby boomers, since after 2010 started reaching age 65, so we saw this big increase in our senior population. And that is ongoing right now.”

Seniors at work: “In Alaska, labor force participation is a bit higher than down south. In general, nationwide and in Alaska, we’re seeing increases over recent decades for labor force participation of seniors.”

Racial diversity: “The racial makeup of the the baby boomers was a little bit more white. So we’ve noticed that in recent years the senior population is becoming a little more white. And that’s a bit different than we’re seeing for other age groups in the state. We’re seeing increased racial diversity. In the long term, we expect racial diversity to increase for the senior population.”