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Census Bureau Facts and Statistics Show Senior U.S. Population Is Still Growing

  • Published: 2017-06-22 : U.S. Census Bureau (census.gov).
  • Synopsis: New U.S. Census Bureau population estimates reveal the U.S. population has a distinctly older age profile than it did 16 years ago.

Main Document

Quote: "The baby-boom generation is largely responsible for this trend, baby boomers began turning 65 in 2011 and will continue to do so for many years to come."

The nation's population has a distinctly older age profile than it did 16 years ago, according to new U.S. Census Bureau population estimates released today.

New detailed estimates show the nation's median age -- the age where half of the population is younger and the other half older -- rose from 35.3 years on April 1, 2000, to 37.9 years on July 1, 2016.

"The baby-boom generation is largely responsible for this trend," said Peter Borsella, a demographer in the Population Division. "Baby boomers began turning 65 in 2011 and will continue to do so for many years to come."

Residents age 65 and over grew from 35.0 million in 2000, to 49.2 million in 2016, accounting for 12.4 percent and 15.2 percent of the total population, respectively.

These latest estimates present changes among groups by age, sex, race and Hispanic origin at the national, state and county levels between April 1, 2010, and July 1, 2016. The estimates also present changes over the same period among groups by age and sex for Puerto Rico and its municipios. The median age is increasing in most areas of the country.

Every state experienced either an increase or had the same median age as a year earlier. At 44.6 years, the median age in Maine is the highest in the nation. New Hampshire's median age of 43.0 years is the next highest, followed by Vermont at 42.7 years. Utah had the lowest median age (30.8 years), followed by Alaska (33.9 years) and the District of Columbia (33.9 years).

Two-thirds (66.7 percent) of the nation's counties experienced an increase in median age last year. In 2016, two counties had median ages over 60: Sumter, Fla. (67.1 years), and Catron, N.M. (60.5 years).

Between 2000 and 2016, 95.2 percent of all counties experienced increases in median age, which can be seen in the graphic.

Sumter, Fla., home to a large retirement community, was the county with the highest median age, and it also showed the highest median age increase. Sumter's median age jumped from 49.2 years in 2000 to 67.1 years in 2016, an increase of 17.9 years. Noble, Ohio, is a small county in the southeastern part of the state. It has experienced net outmigration and deaths nearly equal births. Noble's 2016 median age of 51.5 years is 16 years higher than what it was in 2000 (35.5 years). Since 2000, 56 counties showed a median age increase of 10 years or more. The population continues to be more diverse.

Nationally, all race and ethnic groups grew between July 1, 2015, and July 1, 2016. Throughout the release references to race groups indicate people who would be included in that group alone or in combination with any other race group, unless otherwise noted.

Deaths continued to exceed births for the non-Hispanic white alone group.

While all other groups experienced natural increase (having more births than deaths) between 2015 and 2016, the non-Hispanic white alone group experienced a natural decrease of 163,300 nationally.

Infographic: U.S. Median Age Continues to Rise - Source: U.S. Census Bureau
About This Image: Infographic: U.S. Median Age Continues to Rise - Source: U.S. Census Bureau

U.S. States With Highest and Lowest Median Ages in 2016 - With Change Since 2000
States With the Highest Median Age200020162000-2016 Change
Maine38.644.66.0
New Hampshire37.143.05.9
Vermont37.742.75.0
West Virginia38.942.23.3
Florida38.742.13.4
States With the Lowest Median Age200020162000-2016 Change
North Dakota36.234.8-1.4
Texas32.334.52.2
Alaska32.433.91.5
District of Columbia34.633.9-0.7
Utah27.130.83.7
U.S. Counties With Highest and Lowest Median Ages in 2016 - With Change Since 2000
Counties With the Highest Median Age200020162000-2016 Change
Sumter County, Fla.49.267.117.9
Catron County, N.M.47.860.512.7
Charlotte County, Fla.54.358.84.5
Alcona County, Mich.49.058.19.1
Counties With the Lowest Median Age200020162000-2016 Change
Chattahoochee County, Ga.23.224.41.2
Todd County, S.D.21.724.42.7
Radford city, Va.22.824.01.2
Kusilvak Census Area, Alaska*20.023.63.6
Madison County, Idaho20.723.22.5
Lexington city, Va.23.322.7-0.6
*Formerly Wade Hampton Census Area. Name change effective in 2015.

The Hispanic Population (All Races)

The White Population

The Black or African-American Population

The Asian Population

The American Indian and Alaska Native Population

The Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander Population

The Population of Two or More Races

The Non-Hispanic White Alone Population

Unless otherwise specified, the statistics refer to the population who reported a race alone or in combination with one or more races. Censuses and surveys permit respondents to select more than one race; consequently, people may be one race or a combination of races. The detailed tables show statistics for the resident population by "race alone" and "race alone or in combination." The sum of the populations for the five "race alone or in combination" groups adds to more than the total population because individuals may report more than one race. The federal government treats Hispanic origin and race as separate and distinct concepts. In surveys and censuses, separate questions are asked on Hispanic origin and race. The question on Hispanic origin asks respondents if they are of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin.

Starting with the 2000 Census, the question on race asked respondents to report the race or races they consider themselves to be. Hispanics may be of any race. Responses of "some other race" from the 2010 Census are modified in these estimates. This results in differences between the population for specific race categories for the modified 2010 Census population versus those in the 2010 Census data.

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