Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Borough's population grows smaller, older


The population of Haines continued on a downward trend as another 26 people left town between 2015 and 2016. The Haines Borough also retains its distinction as the oldest community in the state, with a median age of 49.5.

About 2,466 people call Haines home, according to figures recently compiled by Department of Labor and Workforce Development, the lowest population here since 2010.

State demographer Eddie Hunsinger said the estimates consider year-round residents by gathering information from census and Permanent Fund Dividend data, which often excludes seasonal residents.

Hunsinger said 7 to 9 percent (or about 200 people, plus or minus 50) of Haines’ population will arrive in town in a given year, and the same percentage will leave.

“It surprises people how many movers there actually are in a small region or community,” Hunsinger said.

Debra Schnabel, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce, said state cutbacks that caused Haines to lose several teachers, a state trooper, a public health nurse and a full-time magistrate may have contributed to the decline.

Schnabel added longtime businesses closing – like King’s Store and Wings of Alaska – may have had an effect on population, but she expects entrepreneurs and at-home businesses that do not yet have a storefront to emerge in the next five years.

Haines had the same number of births and deaths in 2015 and 2016, resulting in zero natural increase or decrease, which Hunsinger said is unique of the 29 boroughs and census areas in the state. In 2014, two more people died than were born here, and in 2013, eight more people died than were born.

Hunsinger said he expects death rates to increase statewide as Alaska’s population ages, and especially in Haines, as the oldest community in the state.

Haines matured from a median age of 46.6 in 2012, to 48 in 2013, 48.5 in 2014, 49.3 in 2015 and now 49.5 in 2016. Average age statewide is 37. The average age in Wrangell is 47.9 and in Hoonah-Angoon census area, 47.2.

The Southeast region as a whole, including Hoonah-Angoon, Juneau, Ketchikan, Petersburg, Prince of Wales-Hyder, Sitka, Skagway, Wrangell and Yakutat, lost an estimated 494 people from 2015 to 2016.


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