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Campbell Gibson


Nation's Median Age Highest Ever, But 65-and-Over Population's Growth Lags, Census 2000 Shows

The median age of the U.S. population in 2000 was 35.3 years, the highest it has ever been. The increase in the median age reflects the aging of the baby boomers. However, the 65-and-over population actually increased at a slower rate than the overall population for the first time in the history of the census. Both findings are from a Census 2000 profile, highlighting characteristics of the U.S. population, released today by the Commerce Department's Census Bureau.

"While the median age increased by nearly two and a half years between 1990 and 2000," said Campbell Gibson, a senior Census Bureau demographer, "the growth of the population aged 65-and-over was by far the lowest recorded rate of growth in any decade for this age group."

The median age (meaning half are older and half younger) rose from 32.9 years in 1990 to 35.3 in 2000. The rise reflects a 4-percent decline in numbers among 18- to 34-year-olds and a 28-percent increase in 35- to 64-year-olds.

The most rapid increase in size of any age group in the profile was the 49 percent jump in the population 45-to-54-years-old. This increase, to 37.7 million in 2000, was fueled mainly by the entry into this age group of the first of the "baby boom" generation (those born from 1946 to 1964).

"The slower growth of the population 65 and over," Gibson said, "reflects the relatively low number of people reaching 65 during the past decade because of the relatively low number of births in the late 1920s and early 1930s."

Besides data on age, the U.S. profile contains data on sex, household relationship and household type, housing units, and renters and homeowners. It also includes the first population totals for selected groups of Asian, Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, and Hispanic or Latino populations.

Other highlights:

  • The number of males (138.1 million) edged closer to the number of females (143.4 million), raising the sex ratio (males per 100 females) from 95.1 in 1990 to 96.3 in 2000.
  • The nation's housing units numbered 115.9 million, an increase of 13.6 million from 1990.
  • The average household size in 2000 was 2.59, down slightly from 2.63 in 1990.
  • Of the 105.5 million occupied housing units in 2000, 69.8 million were occupied by owners and 35.7 million by renters; the homeownership rate increased from 64 percent to 66 percent.
  • The number of nonfamily households rose at twice the rate of family households -- 23 percent versus 11 percent.
  • Families maintained by women with no husband present increased three times as fast as married-couple families -- 21 percent versus 7 percent. Married-couple families dropped from 55 percent to 52 percent of all households.

The national snapshot, entitled Profile of General Demographic Characteristics: 2000 , is the first of more than 40,000 one-page profiles for states, counties, cities, towns and townships, as well as tribal areas, Hawaiian homelands and other areas. The table contains nearly 100 data items, plus percentage distributions. A companion table with 1990 data is attached to this news release.

The demographic profiles will be mailed to states on a flow basis starting in May and may be accessed via the Census Bureau's new search-and-retrieval database, American FactFinder® <>. The sequence of states expected for release each week is listed on a special Demographic Profile page <>. Further information on topics covered in the demographic profiles may be obtained in a series Census 2000 Briefs to be released during the next few months.

In addition, the Census Bureau will send a copy of the profile to the highest elected officials across the nation for their jurisdictions.

For information about ordering Census 2000 data products, contact the Census Bureau's Customer Services Center on 301-457-4100 or e-mail <>.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Public Information Office | | Last Revised: September 09, 2014