Friday, May 15, 2009


Year and years ago I wrote that we're getting younger every year. A recent round of census data written up in the Trib is generally consistent with that prediction. If you look at the median age of all the states in the nation, Pennsylvania is still pretty old, but you have to look at the trend. Where once Pennsylvania was ranked as the 2nd oldest state, barely behind Florida... the Commonwealth is now ranked 6th pretty much as predicted. That trend will continue. If you look at the growing migration out of places like Michigan, I bet that migration looks a lot like ours did: younger workers leaving and taking their families and their future families with them. Who is staying is very age selective as we say, made up disproportionately by those who are older who have less opportunities to move in search of work. Thus those places will likely be getting older faster, and faster than even may have been projected in the past. That and the recent news that international immigration rates are slowing dramatically will also change the patterns. It has always been the case that intl immigrants are generally younger than average. The flow of immigrants into a lot of states other than Pennsylvania have been a big driver for their faster growth rates. The only odd thing to think about.. Pittsburgh just can't win in some ways. Just as the relative economic conditions might begin to attract immgrants that have all but shunned the region in recent decades, the flow of immigrants is decreasing to some of the lowest levels in years.. leaving fewer potential migrants to arrive here.

So no, the title of this post is misleading. Long long way to go before anyone ever looks at us and say we are a 'young' region. Quite honestly, it will probably never be. But where we were once the extreme case in lots of demographic metrics, the trend is pushing us at least toward a certain type of normalcy. It is also true that eventually the elderly population here will increase. Yet compared to everywhere else in the nation, Pennsylvania comes in absolutely lowest (literally 50 out of 50) in terms of the projected percentage increase in the elderly population over the next several decades. Yet even last means the elderly population is going to grow by about 50%.

The oldest state in the nation. You think Florida? Try Maine.


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