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New Analysis of Senior Citizen Population Released by U.S. Census Bureau

From population growth, to living arrangements, to work force participation it’s a complete picture of the citizens age 65 and older

See graph at bottom of page showing senior population from 1900 to 2050 and percent of total population

June 30, 2014 - A new report released today by the U.S. Census Bureau provides the latest, comprehensive look at the nation's population aged 65 and older (senior citizens), comprising 40.3 million in 2010.

The 65+ in the United States: 2010 report contains many findings about the 65-and-older population on topics such as socio-economic characteristics, size and growth, geographic distribution, and longevity and health. For example, Americans 65 and older living in a nursing home fell 20 percent between 2000 and 2010, from 1.6 million to 1.3 million. Meanwhile, the share in other care settings has been growing.

"In the United States, older men and women are increasingly participating in the labor force," said Enrique Lamas, the Census Bureau's associate director for demographic programs. "The findings released today with the National Institute on Aging (NIA) at the National Institutes of Health provide the most detailed information available on the demographic, economic, and health and wellness characteristics of this rapidly growing dynamic population."

The Division of Behavioral and Social Research at NIA commissioned this report and has also supported three earlier editions, the first published in 1993.

"The National Institute on Aging is pleased to support this 65+ in the United States report," said Richard Suzman, director of the Division of Behavioral and Social Research at NIA.

"This report series uniquely combines Census Bureau and other federal statistics with findings from NIA-supported studies on aging. The collaboration with Census has been of great value in developing social, economic and demographic statistics on our aging population with this edition highlighting an approaching crisis in caregiving — since the baby boomers had fewer children compared to their parents."

In the report, a number of trends and characteristics are separated by age, sex, race and Hispanic origin for the older population. The report incorporates research and findings from many recent studies that draw heavily from the 2010 Census and nationally representative surveys, such as the Current Population Survey, American Community Survey and National Health Interview Survey.

Economic statistics from the Census Bureau's 2012 County Business Patterns also show changes in health care-related industries. For example, the number of employees in long-term care facilities, such as continuing care communities, grew by about 12 percent between 2007 and 2012.

Socio-economic Characteristics

Labor force participation rates of our nation's 65 and older population varied across states in 2009-2011. Major retirement destinations, such as Arizona and Florida, had lower rates compared with Midwest states, such as Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota, where a higher share of the older population was still part of the workforce.

This report also includes an assessment of the impact of the December 2007 to June 2009 recession on older Americans.

   • Following 2006 and the peak in housing prices, homeownership rates remained stable for older householders at 81 percent in 2011, compared with the under-65 population who experienced declines.

   • Many older workers remained employed during the recession; 16.2 percent of the 65-and-older population were employed in 2010, up from 14.5 percent in 2005. In contrast, 60.3 percent of the 20-to-24 age group were employed in 2010, down from 68.0 percent in 2005.

Between 2000 and 2010, Internet usage for the 65-and-older population increased from 14.3 percent to 44.8 percent. While Internet usage among the older population made steady gains, it remained lower than among the younger population as 75.8 percent of those age 3 to 64 went online in 2010.

Size and Growth

   • In 2010, there were 40.3 million people 65 and older, 12 times the number in 1900.

   • Diversity among the older population is increasing, though the majority (nearly 85 percent) still reported as single-race white in the 2010 Census.

   • In 2010, 50 countries had a higher proportion of people age 65 and older than the United States. By 2050, this number is projected to reach 98, almost half the countries in the world.

Geographic Distribution

Florida was among the states with the highest proportions of older people in their populations in 2010, along with West Virginia, Maine and Pennsylvania (all above 15 percent).

   • Eleven states had more than 1 million people 65 and older in 2010.

   • The West and South regions experienced the fastest growth in their 65-plus and 85-plus populations between 2000 and 2010.

At a more local level, the Census Bureau's recent population estimates showed Sumter county, Fla. — home to a large retirement community — had the nation's highest median age among all U.S. counties in 2013, at 65.5 years.

>>  65+ in the United States: 2010


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