During the last three decades, growth in the U.S. working age population, ages 20 to 65, has easily outpaced total U.S. population growth. But in coming decades further growth in the working-age population is on track to be considerably slower, increasing at less than half the rate of the rest of the population. As the large baby boomer generation leaves the workforce, there will be hardly enough twenty-year-olds entering the workforce to replace them. Meanwhile, as Baby Boomers age, the population over 65 will swell and become the fastest growing age group in the U.S. This shift in the structure of the U.S. population – a relatively small population of 20-year-olds to replenish jobs vacated by a large population of Baby Boomers – will reshape local economies across the country.Change in Population

Sources: Decennial Census Counts, *Weldon Cooper Center National Population Projections

Comparing the U.S. age distribution in 1980 with the current U.S. age distribution below, reveals how the working-age population grew so quickly between 1980 and 2010, and why growth is now hard to come by.workingagecomparison Read Full Article →
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No other age group experiences as much change within such as short period of time as young adults do. Until around age 18, the vast majority of children live with family and attend school. But then a great dispersion takes place, many young adults move away to attend college (69 percent of 2015 high school graduates enrolled in college), young adults will also often move to work in their first full-time jobs. Between 15 and 24, nearly 30 percent of Virginia’s young adults move in any given year, in comparison, after age 45 less than 10 percent of adults move annually. In Virginia, some localities attract more young adults than others, likewise, some localities lose more of their young adults than others.

Migration Rate Virginia

Data is from the 2010-2014 American Community Survey, accessed using University of Minnesota, IPUMS

Recently released census age estimates show that so far this decade some of Virginia’ cities and counties with universities are experiencing an influx of 15 to 24 year olds, but most of Virginia’s counties are experiencing a significant outflow of their 15 to 24 year old population. Between 2010 and 2015, 88 of Virginia’s 95 counties had more 15 to 24 year olds move out than in, this is up from 69 counties between 2000 and 2005. Out-migration was largest in rural counties. In contrast, Virginia’s cities and counties with universities received a large inflow of 15 to 24 year olds, with 24 of Virginia’s 38 independent cities experiencing an increase in their 15 to 24 year population from in-migration. Read Full Article →
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In June, the National Center for Health Statistics released the total number of births in the U.S. during 2015. Given that the economy has been growing for six years since the recession ended in 2009, most economists were expecting the number of births to increase. However, there were actually fewer births in 2015 than in 2014 with the U.S fertility rate (the number of births per 1000 women ages 15 to 44) reaching an all-time low.CDC

Source: Chart produced by the Centers for Disease Control

Altogether there have been 3.4 million fewer births since 2007 than would have been expected if pre-recession fertility rates had not declined. The continuing decline in births has caused economists to worry about its long term impact on society and the economy. Recently, the Census Bureau cut its 2008 projection of the U.S. population in 2050 from 439 million to 398 million, in part because of lower fertility rates. The Social Security Administration has also warned that the decline in births could cause the size of the social security deficit to double because there will be fewer workers to support the rapidly growing retiree population.

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One of the predominant long-term trends in American demography has been the steady rise in the portion of the population that lives in cities or nearby them. The percentage of the U.S. population living in metropolitan areas has risen from 56 percent in 1950 to 87 percent in 2015. The percentage living in large metropolitan areas (over a million residents) has nearly doubled to 57 percent. In addition to the growth in population, the geographic size of metropolitan areas has  increased noticeably since 1950. For much of the 20th century, this was due to urban areas becoming more sprawled out. But a major reason for this geographic growth today is that as the urban cores of metropolitan areas have grown larger, they have attracted a rising number of commuters from nearby rural counties, in many cases causing the rural counties to become part of their metropolitan area.

Percent living in metro area by sizeData is from the 1950 to 2010 Decennial Census, as well as the 2015 Census Population Estimates

The expansion of metropolitan areas into rural America
The widespread construction of interstates and highways after World War II made it much easier for workers to commute longer distances to job centers. At the same time, agricultural employment declined in nearly every rural U.S. county, while manufacturing jobs in most small towns also began to disappear by the 1980s. The result of these two trends has been that residents in most rural counties have grown more dependent on nearby cities for jobs. Counties get included in a metro area once a certain percentage of their working residents are commuting into a nearby city, rather than participating in the rural county’s economy. In many rural counties, as the map below shows, the proportion of workers commuting to a nearby city has risen above a quarter of all workers, causing counties to become part of another city’s metropolitan area.giphy (1)The Office of Management and Budget determined the 1960 to 2015 metropolitan area boundaries

In Virginia, the portion of commuters who traveled over an hour each way to work rose from 6.5 percent in 1990 to 10 percent in 2014. But in rural areas that are within commuting distance of city centers, the percentage of residents who drove over 60 minutes to get to work often doubled or tripled in the same period. In some counties on the edges of large metro areas, such as Warren County, Virginia, located 70 miles west of Washington DC, it is common for between a quarter and a third of residents to commute more than an hour to get to work. Read Full Article →
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(Click title to see all maps together)
Projection 65plus gif

The United States is growing both in size and age, as shown in our recently released population projections for each decade till 2040. My last post was more about the growth in population across the states and identifying commonalities over the projected time horizon. But as we focus our lens on the future, no matter how we examine the numbers, aging seems to be a fundamental underlying theme. By 2020, one in six people, or more than 16% of the population, will be above 65 years of age. The share of older Americans is expected to keep rising to nearly 20% by 2030.

Much of the growth during the 1990-2010 period was fueled by immigration and births to immigrants. The growth dynamics of the decades ahead though are expected to be very different. With the baby-boomers aging into their senior years, the gains in life-expectancy are becoming more and more noticeable. In addition, the continued low birth rate, delayed childbearing, and decline in immigration will over time affect the shape of the U.S. population’s age-distribution. The charts below reflect this clearly with the population pyramid losing its distinct baby boomer and echo boomer edges and evolving into a smooth wine barrel shape, reflecting less growth from births and immigration.

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Crowd of faces

Our new population projections over 2020, 2030, and 2040 for the nation as well as the 50 states and District of Columbia were released today. Looking forward, the U.S. population is expected to reach 383 million by 2040, but the rate of growth is projected to slow down from nearly 10% over the 2000-2010 decade to 6% between 2030-2040. Similar trends are also expected from most states.

The geographic distribution of this growing population also tells an interesting story. Back in 2000, six of the top ten largest states belonged to the North. By 2040, five of the top ten are expected to be in the South. The slowing down of the northern states along with rapid population growth in the south and west, means that over time the country will become more Southern and Western. This trend in regional population distribution is already evident from the shift in the mean center of population for the United States charted by the Census Bureau from 1790 to 2010, and will continue south-westward in the next few decades.

Rank of states by PopSize

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Year after year, some of the nation’s most dynamic cities are also the nation’s biggest losers when it comes to migrants. Yet rather than waste away, they continue to boom. This widely misunderstood paradox leads to some interesting articles every time the Census Bureau releases a new round of county population and migration estimates, as it did several weeks ago.

New York City is the prime example, as it is for most urban phenomena in the U.S. Four of New York’s five boroughs – all but Staten Island – were among the eight counties with the biggest losses in net domestic migration last year. They’re joined on that list by Cook County, IL (Chicago), Los Angeles County, CA, Miami-Dade County, FL (Miami), and Fairfax County, VA (urban county outside DC with the second highest median income in the country).

Top Counties

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Black households earn more in mid-Atlantic states, particularly in Virginia, than in any other state where Blacks make up a substantial portion of the population. As the previous post noted, neither the region’s overall wealth nor the concentration of federal government jobs in mid-Atlantic states fully accounts for why higher income Black households are disproportionately located in the region. This post explores an alternative explanation by looking into Virginia and mid-Atlantic history.

William Faulkner famously wrote that “the past is never dead, it’s not even past.” Past acts, he argued, continue to resonate in and shape the present. A number of social scientists have found that income and educational attainment is in large part intergenerational, that is, parents’ and grandparents’ socioeconomic status is one of the best determinants of the economic well-being of their children and grandchildren. Beyond the level of the individual or family, Bureau of Economic Analysis data also shows that it usually takes generations for the income per person in one state to change considerably when compared with other states, suggesting that patterns of economic wealth (or deprivation) have both historic roots and predictive value..

Black Poverty Rate by County in 2014

Black Poverty Rate by County

Data is from the Census 2014 American Community Survey, counties with small Black populations and large margins of error were excluded. The national poverty rate in 2014 was 15 percent.

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One of the most persistent statistics in American demography has been the gap that exists between Black Americans’ incomes and the rest of the population. But among those who identified themselves as Black or African American in 2014, there were noticeable geographic differences in their incomes. In states with a substantial Black population, Virginia, Maryland and Delaware had the highest household incomes and lowest  poverty rates among Blacks. While the median household income for Blacks in these three states is still only about 70 percent of the median income for all their households, it is noticeably higher than in many other states where the typical Black household often earns closer to half that of non-Black households.

Median Household IncomeData is from the Census 2014 American Community Survey, accessed using Census DataFerret. Only states where non-Hispanic Blacks made up a significant portion of the population (above the national average) were included in the chart. 

The concentration of upper income Black households in these three neighboring states does not have a simple explanation. The federal government’s significant presence in the region certainly boosts incomes across the board. But other states with high levels of federal salary expenditures, such as West Virginia and Alabama, are not nearly as well off. Additionally, a state being wealthy does not always mean that its Black residents also have high income levels; the median household income in Illinois is only $2,000 less than in Delaware, but the median household income for its Black residents is $12,000 (or 25 percent) less than Black residents’ median household income in Delaware. Read Full Article →

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High-end off-campus student housing under construction in Charlottesville near UVA. Though a one bedroom apartment could cost $1400 a month, the residents these apartments will be marketed to may still report income levels below the poverty line.

In our latest Census Brief, Poverty and postsecondary students in college towns, we discuss why it’s important for college towns to take undergraduate and graduate students into account when looking at community poverty. While poverty estimates explicitly exclude people living in group housing—such as dorms, correctional facilities, or residential nursing homes—these calculations do include college or graduate students who live in off-campus housing. Because many post-secondary students have low incomes, they may contribute to high poverty rates in the areas where they live. As a result, we often see inflated poverty numbers in college towns.

However, it is not enough for localities to explain away high poverty rates by suggesting that they are caused only by the presence of college students. Many college towns have pervasive community poverty that is only somewhat increased by the included off-campus students. Local leaders interested in making informed decisions about combatting poverty, particularly in localities with high populations of post-secondary students, should take a closer look at how much student poverty influences the overall rate.

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