A Part of the U.S. Where Younger Counties Are on the Rise

Children on a fair ride in Iowa.

Children on a fair ride in Iowa. shutterstock


Connecting state and local government leaders

Overall, the nation's median age has been getting older. New Census Bureau data shows which region is bucking that trend the most.

About half of the U.S. counties that have seen their populations become younger in recent years are located in the Midwest, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates released last week.

The Census Bureau says that among the 531 counties that had decreases in their median age between April 2010 and July 2017, around 51 percent were located in the Midwest.

In contrast, the Northeast contains just 2 percent of the nation’s counties that have seen median age declines during that timeframe.

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau)

Overall, the U.S. is growing older. The nation’s median age crept upwards to 38 in 2017, from 37.2 in 2010, the Census Bureau figures show. This trend is projected to continue through 2060.

Baby boomers, and millennials alike, are responsible for the shift, Molly Cromwell, a Census demographer said in a statement.

“Boomers continue to age and are slowly outnumbering children as the birth rate has declined steadily over the last decade,” she said.

The South contains about 32 percent of the counties that have had declines in their median age between April 2010 and July 2017. About 14 percent of the counties are located in the West.

Some of the largest decreases in median age at the county level occurred in North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska, according to the Census Bureau data.

The figures show that Williams County, North Dakota, had the largest decrease in median age—7.1 years.

Williams is located in the Bakken oil fields region of North Dakota. An upswing in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, of oil and gas drove an economic boom, and an influx of workers there beginning in the early 2000s. But, by 2016, the industry had slumped amid low oil prices.

Cromwell explained in a video the Census Bureau posted online that, among states, Florida, Maine and West Virginia have the populations with the largest percentages of senior citizens.

About 20 percent of Floridians are 65 or older. In Maine the percentage of the population made up of seniors was 19.9 percent. In West Virginia it was 19.4 percent.

The states with the lowest percentage of seniors included Utah (10.8 percent) and Alaska (11.2 percent), along with Washington, D.C. (12.1 percent.)

Bill Lucia is a Senior Reporter for Government Executive's Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.

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