The number of Asian and Hispanic Americans continues to surge, but nobody’s booming like the Baby Boomers.
The U.S. Census Bureau reported Thursday that the 65-and-older population grew in the last decade by a whopping 13.8 million people, or 34.2%, driving up the national median age from 37.2 years in 2010 to 38.4 years in 2019.
“The first Baby Boomers reached 65 years old in 2011,” said Luke Rogers, chief of the Census Bureau’s Population Estimates Branch. “Since then, there’s been a rapid increase in the size of the 65-and-older population, which grew by over a third since 2010. No other age group saw such a fast increase.”
Meanwhile, the young are becoming less numerous as well as less white. For the first time, non-Whites and Hispanics made up the majority of the under-16 population in 2019, fueled by falling White fertility rates and the rapid growth in the Asian and Hispanic communities.
The number of those under 14 has dropped by 1.1% since 2010, part of what the bureau described as “the slow decline of the younger population.”
“In fact, the under-18 population was smaller in 2019 than it was in 2010, in part due to lower fertility in the United States,” said Mr. Rogers.
Still, the boomer surge was enough to drive up the ratio of dependents to non-dependents. The so-called “dependent population” — those under 14 and over 65 — increased versus the working population from 49 “dependents” per working-age person to 53.7.
Leading the population growth in terms of race were Asian-Americans, whose numbers soared by 29.3% in the last decade, an increase of 5.2 million, for 22.9 million in 2019.
The population of Hispanics (any race) hit 60.6 million after rising by 10 million, or 20%, in the same period, while the number of Blacks increased by 11.6% or 5 million, reaching 48.2 million in 2019.
“As the nation has continued to gray, it has also grown more racially and ethnically diverse,” said the Census Bureau.
Meanwhile, Whites numbered 258.7 million after growing by just 4.3% in the last decade. The White fertility rate dropped to 1.666 births per 1,000 women in 2017, while the overall U.S. fertility rate wasn’t much higher at 1.765, according to figures released in January by the Centers for Disease Control.
Our #DataRelease shows the nation’s 65-and-older population has grown rapidly since 2010, driven by the aging of Baby Boomers born between 1946 and 1964. https://t.co/QKp0YPrQmq #Census pic.twitter.com/gzS0e4sod5
— U.S. Census Bureau (@uscensusbureau) June 25, 2020
The result has been what demographers call the graying of America. From 2018-19 alone, the 65+ cohort grew by 3.2%, or 1.69 million.
In 2019, the oldest states were Maine, Florida, West Virginia and Vermont, where one in five people were age 65 or older. The youngest state was Utah, where only 11.4% of the population was 65+, followed by Washington, D.C., with 12.4% over 65, and Alaska with 12.5%.
Utah also had the lowest median age at 31.3 years, which was still older than in 2010, when the median was 29.2 years. The only state that became younger over the last decade was North Dakota, which saw its median age drop 1.7 years, falling to 35.3 years in 2019.
The oldest county was Sumter County, Florida, with a median age of 68.1 in 2019, while the youngest was Madison County, Idaho, where the median was 23.3 years.
William H. Frey, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, has projected that the United States will become non-majority White in 2045, with Whites dropping to 49.7% of the population, followed by 24.6 Hispanics, 13.1% Blacks, 7.9% Asians, and 3.8% multi-racial.
“We are browning from bottom up in our age structure,” Mr. Frey told the Associated Press. “This is going to be a diversified century for the United States, and it’s beginning with this youngest generation.”
• This story was based in part on wire-service reports.