For longtime Alaskans, that might be a question we ask when we see someone spinning their tires at an intersection in December, wearing their parka on a sunny day in May, or referring to one of our favorite wintry pastimes as snowmobiling. As new residents take their time to settle in with the Alaskan culture, they can sometimes stand out in a crowd and make locals wonder; where do these people come from? Likewise, those that are new to Alaska surely have the same curiosity about our state and it's residents. They hear that residents hunt moose or see someone wearing shorts in fifty degree weather and likely ask themselves; where do these people come from?
So, where do these people come from that populate our great state? I recently read an article in the Alaska Dispatch News, ADN, which stated that more people move to Alaska from Texas than any other state. This piqued my interest, and I wanted to see if the numbers held true with our data at Alaska Terminals, and also to see where people are moving to when they leave here.
To do so, I took a look at our northbound traffic data, which accounts for the people that moved to Alaska, since 2013. I found that our numbers do tend to agree with the census information cited in the ADN article. Texas accounted for 17% of our northbound shipments over this time period, followed by California and Washington with 11% and 8% respectively.
Southbound traffic data, those people moving out of Alaska, was much the same: 19% of our southbound traffic moved to Texas, 14% moved to Washington and 7% moved to California. Arizona and Colorado followed closely behind with 5% each.
Much of this data can be attributed to employment related moves. Alaska employs a great deal of workers in the oil and gas industry as does Texas. Many of these employees are moved to Alaska for their employment, and subsequently moved from Alaska back to Texas at some later date.
But who moves to Alaska by choice?
After looking at our numbers, I thought that it would be interesting to take a look at how many people are choosing to move to and from Alaska. In order to isolate these people, I searched out the number of people that moved as COD customers. These are the people that as far as our data can tell, moved for personal reasons not directly related to their employment.
When looking at our numbers in this way, we see that 23% of people moving to Alaska were from Washington, 14% were moving from California, and 8% were moving from Arizona. Texas only accounted for 5% of the northbound COD moves that took place.
Our data also shows that 22% of the people that we moved out of Alaska were people moving to Washington, 9% were moving to Oregon or Arizona, and finally 8% were moving to Texas.
Alaska has always had a close connection with the Northwest. It isn’t surprising to find that many people move between Alaska and Washington and Oregon. It also isn’t surprising that we have numerous people moving to Arizona from Alaska, likely looking for sunshine and warm weather. And finally, it isn’t surprising to me that we have many people that move between Alaska and Texas. Although many of these moves are employment related moves as previously mentioned, I think Alaska and Texas share the same independent spirit that many of us in Alaska find so important.