Thanks to the Anchorage Daily News for the following report:
By KYLE HOPKINS
About 640 people live in Noorvik. Give or take.
Want the exact head count? Check back next year when the Inupiat Eskimo village is expected to become the first town in America to be counted in the 2010 census.
U.S. Census Bureau officials let news of Noorvik’s preliminary selection spill during a presentation Thursday in Anchorage as the bureau prepares for months of counting households in Alaska’s remote towns and villages.
And the cities too.
The census, conducted nationwide every 10 years, isn’t just about counting people. It represents money, with the results used to determine how much Alaska gets in federal funding for Medicaid and other programs. The numbers can even cost politicians their jobs, as the state redraws voting districts after each census.
Anchorage and the Mat-Su could pick up a seat in the Legislature, for example, while Southeast Alaska stands to lose one because of population declines, said state demographer Greg Williams.
The 2000 census counted 626,900 people in Alaska, Williams said. The state estimates the population has grown by about 8.4 percent, to 679,700, as of 2008.
The latest count comes as researchers puzzle over an apparent migration from Alaska’s villages to larger towns and cities. The Aleutian Region School District, for example, plans to close a school in Nikolski in the fall because of low enrollment, according to the state Education Department.
“You can go all the way down the Alaska Peninsula and out to the Aleutian Islands, and all the districts have been declining,” said Superintendent Joe Beckford.
A recent report by the state Division of Community and Regional Affairs said the population in rural Alaska dropped by 3.6 percent between 2000 and 2008.
High fuel prices last year sparked talk of a rural exodus, but a May 2008 study by the Institute of Social and Economic Research at the University of Alaska Anchorage said the trend can’t be blamed on energy costs alone.
“What makes this census particularly timely and anticipated is that there’s competing conventional wisdoms and a lot of discussion going on about what is really happening,” said Steve Colt, associate professor with the institute.
“We don’t really even know the extent and nature of migration in terms of who is moving (where), let alone why.”