Don’t call it the aging Midwest anymore.
The vast number of counties whose populations are getting younger are in a band stretching north to south through the nation’s midsection. About half are in the Midwest, according to recent census estimates.
Only five Indiana counties, including Adams south of Fort Wayne, have seen a downward trend in median age this decade. Some of the largest decreases were in North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska, the U.S. Census Bureau reported last month.
The decline in median age : where half of the population is younger and the other half is older : is largely credited to an influx of Hispanics, who are typically younger, according to a census analysis.
With a declining birth rate and aging baby boomers, however, the U.S. median age is projected to increase to 43 by 2060.
“While the nation as a whole is aging and is projected to continue to do so for decades, almost 1 in 5 counties are getting younger,” the analysis said. “This recent trend has complex underpinnings but is driven largely by a rise in Hispanic populations.”
The nation’s Hispanic population has a median age of 29.3 compared with 38 for all ethnic groups.
Of the Midwest’s 1,055 counties, 273 saw declines in median age between 2010 and 2017. In the seven years before 2010, only 63 Midwestern counties saw declines, according to the analysis. Williams County, North Dakota, had the largest decrease at 7.1 years. North Dakota’s oil boom has attracted young adults to the state, according to news reports.
No Indiana county had a drastic decline in median age, but even a small one is significant when the state overall aged from 37 to 37.7 this decade. The national median climbed to 38 from 37.2.
Adams County’s median age dropped 0.2 years to 33.8. It has the fourth youngest population in the state, after the college counties of Tippecanoe (28.2) and Monroe (29.4). LaGrange County, with a median of 31.6, is third youngest.
Allen County is ninth youngest in the state with a median age of 36, an increase of 0.6 years since 2010.
Separately, the Census Bureau reported the nation continues to become more diverse by race and ethnicity. Non-Hispanic whites were the only population that did not grow in the last decade.