JUNE 21, 2018 — Approximately half (51.4 percent) of the nation’s 531 counties that were getting younger between April 2010 and July 2017 were in the Midwest, according to newly released 2017 population estimates. Out of the counties that were getting younger, the South also had a high proportion (32.4 percent) of the counties that experienced a decrease in median age — the age where half of the population is younger and the other half is older— followed by the West (14.1 percent), and the Northeast (2.1 percent).
“Nationally, almost 17 percent of counties saw a decrease in median age from April 2010 to July 2017. The majority of the counties getting younger were in the Midwest, and of these counties with 10,000 people or more in July 2017, some of the largest decreases were in North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska,” said Molly Cromwell, a demographer at the U.S. Census Bureau. “Williams County, N.D., had the largest decrease in median age, declining by 7.1 years.”
Despite the decrease in median age in many of the Midwest’s counties, a majority of counties in the country continued to grow older. The nation as a whole experienced a median age increase from 37.2 years to 38.0 years during the period 2010 to 2017. This continued aging of the country is consistent with the projected changes to the nation’s population through 2060.
“Baby boomers, and millennials alike, are responsible for this trend in increased aging,” Cromwell said. “Boomers continue to age and are slowly outnumbering children as the birth rate has declined steadily over the last decade.”
Last year, Florida had the largest percentage of seniors (age 65 and older) with 20.1 percent, followed by Maine (19.9 percent) and West Virginia (19.4 percent). Maine also saw its median age increase to 44.7 from 42.7 years old in 2010, making it the state with the highest median age.
On the other hand, Utah had the smallest percentage of its population age 65 and older (10.8 percent), followed by Alaska (11.2 percent) and the District of Columbia (12.1 percent). Utah is also the state with the lowest median age (30.9 years).
View our graphics on change in median age from 2010 to 2017 at the county level and the median age in 2017 to see how the nation has changed.
At the same time that the U.S. population becomes older, it also is becoming more diverse by race and ethnicity. Nationally, the population of all race and ethnic groups, except for the non-Hispanic white alone group, grew between July 1, 2016, and July 1, 2017. View our graphic on the age and race distribution from 2010 to 2017 to see how the nation has grown more diverse. References below to the race and ethnic compositions of county populations apply only to those counties with a total population of 10,000 or more.
This is the last of the population estimates for 2017. Previous estimates include national, county, metro area, city and town population estimates. The population estimates as of July 1, 2017, do not reflect displacement or other migratory changes to the nation’s population due to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria in August and September 2017. For information on how the country is projected to change through 2060, view our previous release, Older People Projected to Outnumber Children for First Time in U.S. History.
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.