Most of the country is rapidly getting older. There were 44.7 million Americans age 65 and older in 2013, up 3.6 percent from 2012. But not all areas of the country are aging at the same rate. In seven states the median age actually declined between 2012 and 2013, according to new Census Bureau data.
[See: The Youngest Baby Boomers Turn 50 .]
"The population in the Great Plains energy boom states is becoming younger and more male as workers move in seeking employment in the oil and gas industry," says John Thompson, director of the Census Bureau. "The U.S. as a whole continues to age as the youngest of the baby boom generation enters their 50s."
Here's where the U.S. population is getting younger:
North Dakota. The largest age decline in the country was in North Dakota, where the median age decreased by 0.6 years between 2012 and 2013. Williams, North Dakota experienced a median age decline of 1.6 years, the most of any county in the nation. The Census Bureau suggests that the age decline could be due to the jobs created by the Bakken shale energy boom.
Alaska. In Alaska the median age declined by 0.4 years to 33 in 2013. Alaska has the lowest proportion of people age 65 and older in the country, just 9 percent. The state also has the highest percentage of men, making up 52.4 percent of the population.
[See: The 10 Fastest-Aging States .]
Hawaii. The median age declined by 0.2 years in Hawaii between 2012 and 2013. "The report from the Census Bureau refers to a short time period and the change for Hawaii is very small," says Andrew Mason, an economics professor at the University of Hawaii. "In general Hawaii is aging with the rest of the country and for the same reasons. In-migration of young workers can make a difference in some cases."
Montana. Montana's median age declined by 0.1 years between 2012 and 2013. "Out-migration of younger persons has declined," says Jim Sylvester, a senior economist at the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Montana at Missoula. "Younger people are no longer leaving Montana for work but are staying or moving to the energy counties of eastern Montana."
Wyoming. Wyoming's median age slightly decreased by .03 years. "Wyoming's economic recovery in the energy and construction sectors in recent years has been drawing younger workers into the state," says Wenlin Liu, principal economist with the Wyoming Economic Analysis Division. "It has also kept many of Wyoming's younger workers from leaving the state due to the declining and low unemployment rate."
South Dakota. The median age inched slightly downward by .02 years in South Dakota. And the county of Shannon, South Dakota has the highest proportion of children under age 5 (11.6 percent) in the country. "It's the small denominator of a population of 800,000, coupled with a little in-migration for jobs, a higher fertility rate among the Dakota and a much higher fertility rate among the Hutterites that is moving South Dakota younger by a statistically insignificant amount," says Michael McCurry, South Dakota's former state demographer who recently retired.
[Read: 10 Rapidly Aging Countries .]
Oklahoma. The median age in Oklahoma very marginally declined by .007 years, but that's still noteworthy at a time when most of the country is aging rapidly.
Florida had the highest proportion of people age 65 and older of any state (18.7 percent). And in the county of Sumter, Florida, over half the population (51.6 percent) is composed of senior citizens. Maine has the oldest median age of any state in the country, 43.9 years, and 17.7 percent of residents are senior citizens. New Hampshire experienced the largest statewide increase in the median age, growing from 42 in 2012 to 42.3 in 2013.
Emily Brandon is the senior editor for Retirement at U.S. News. You can contact her on Twitter @aiming2retire, circle her on Google+ or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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