The oldest Baby Boomers began turning 65 on January 1, 2011. Every day since then, about 10,000 Baby Boomers have turned 65. This will continue through the end of 2029. Less than five years into this process, U.S. Census Bureau population estimates for July 1, 2015 already reveal significant impacts of the Boomer’s population aging.
In 2010, just under 13% of North Carolina’s population was 65 or older. Five years later, in 2015, this proportion had increased to 15%. Between 2010 and 2015, the state’s population increased by 507,000. Over half of this population growth—283,000 or 56%—was due to increases in the 65 and older population.
Nationwide, similar shifts are underway. Fifteen percent of the U.S. population was 65 or older in 2015, also up from 13% five years prior. Growth in the 65 and older population accounted for 59% of the nation’s 12.7 million total population growth.
The impact of the Boomers is not limited to the population 65 and older. The middle-Boomers—individuals born between 1951 and 1960—were 55 to 64 in 2015. Growth in this age group accounted for 35% of all population growth nationwide and 26% of growth in North Carolina. Combined, growth in the 55 and older age groups accounted for 94% of population growth nationally and 82% of population growth in North Carolina.
Between 2010 and 2015, growth in two other key age groups—young adults (18-24) and the prime working-age population (25-54)—also contributed to population growth in North Carolina and the nation, though to a smaller extent than increases at older ages.
The child population (under 18) grew slightly in North Carolina between 2010 and 2015, increasing by 8,900 and accounting for about 2% of the state’s growth. Nationally, the child population declined by -537,000 over this time period.