Newsflash: We are getting older

It’s not just you; as a nation we are aging

By Morf Morford, Tacoma Daily Index

It’s not your imagination. On the street, at work and almost anywhere in public, there’s a lot more older people out there.

It’s not just politicians

The nation’s median age increased to 38.9 years between 2021 and 2022, according to estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau. Median age is a fancy way of saying that 38.9 is the point at which half of the population is older and half of the population is younger.

As with everything else, this current age distribution is not evenly distributed.

Some states are older

About a third (17) of the states across the USA had a median age above 40.0 in 2022, led by Maine with the highest at 44.8, and New Hampshire at 43.3.

Hawaii had the largest increase in median age among states, up about half a year to a median age of 40.7.

And some states are MUCH older

As you might guess, as traditional havens for retirement, some counties or entire states host older residents – sometimes much older.

To no one’s surprise, of counties with populations of 100,000 or more, the majority of the oldest counties were in Florida. Sumter County (median age, 68.1), home to a large retirement community, has consistently been the nation’s oldest county. Next door Citrus County, is a bit younger, but still had a median age (57) well above that of the rest of the nation. Similarly, Sarasota County (57.5) and Charlotte County (60.2), both coastal Florida counties, had median ages near or over 60.

Nationwide, a little over 10% of us are 65-74. About 5% of us are 75-84. And about 2% of us are 85 or older.

And some states barely changed

No states statistically grew younger. Four states – Alabama (39.4), Maine (44.8), Tennessee (39.1), West Virginia (42.8), and the District of Columbia (34.8) — had no change in their median age from 2021 to 2022.

Some areas are younger than average

On a county level, seven counties with populations of at least 100,000 had a median age below 30.0 — Utah (25.7) and Cache (25.8) counties in Utah; Onslow County, North Carolina (27.6); Tippecanoe County, Indiana (28.8); Clarke County, Georgia (29.1); and Brazos (26.7) and Webb (29.8) counties in Texas. Most of these counties host large universities, which create and maintain their lower median ages.

As a nation we are changing, and it’s not just age

The tone and texture of our nation is changing dramatically – and quickly.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the White population in the United States was 260,570,291 in 2022, representing an increase of 0.1% or 388,779 people from 2021.

The national Black population totaled 50,087,750, up 0.9% from July 2021.

The Asian population in the United States was 24,683,008 in 2022, up 577,420 or 2.4% from 2021.

The Hispanic population nationwide gained over a million residents, reaching 63,664,346 in 2022, an increase of 1.7%.

You don’t need to be a mathematical genius or a statistical analyst to see that, when it comes to the rate of growth, the numbers are literally changing who we, as a nation, are.

When it comes to sheer population growth, the state of Texas grew by about half a million, (about 1.5%. Florida grew by a little over 400,000 (almost 2%).

Some states lost population. New York, California and Illinois each lost over 100,000 from 2021 to 2022.

In Washington state

Washington state growth from 2021-2022 was a shade over 45,000 (about 0.00006%). That’s about the population of Bremerton. Even with that tiny percentage of growth, Washington state was the eighth in population growth nationwide.

Whitman County, Washington, had the fastest-growing White population, which increased by 10% (3,781 residents) in 2022.

King County, Washington, had the largest gain in Asian population, adding 21,498 people.

Pierce County has a population of about 920,000, and has a had a slow but steady growth over the past several years – about .5% a year.

Our median age is a couple years younger (36) than the nation’s with about 6% under five and about 15% over 65.

You can see more Pierce County census details here.