seniors-150x150-3365536The elderly share of America’s population has been growing—but New York is graying a bit more slowly than the rest of the country.

That’s among the trends to be gleaned from the latest U.S. Census estimates of population distributions by age groups at the state and county levels.

As of mid-2018, according to the new data, the proportion of New York residents aged 65 and older stood at 16.6 percent—slightly below the national average of 17.0 percent. New York’s 65-and-over population was up three percentage points over the 2010 level, while the U.S. average rose by 3.9 percentage points.

New York ranked 35th out of 50 states in its elderly population share. Retiree haven Florida topped this category with 23.1 percent of its population aged 65 and over, while Alaska was at the bottom of the list, with 12.2 percent.

Middle to millennial

The median age for all New Yorkers as of 2018 was 39, not far above the national median of 38.2. Both the New York and U.S. age medians increased a single year between 2010 and 2018.

The share of New York’s population in the core millennial age bracket of 25 to 34 years was 14.8 percent, same as the national average. However, New York’s share has grown more slowly since the last census, by 1.1 percentage points compared to 1.5 percentage points nationally.

The Empire State’s population of children under 5 remained lower than the national average—and among the bottom 11 states—at 5.9 percent. With the U.S. birth rate falling, both New York and the nation saw their under-5 shares of population decrease by slightly less than a percentage point. Only nine states had even slight gains in this category, led by North Dakota, Florida and Texas.

Regional divide

As usual, there are some pronounced differences in the age profiles of upstate and downstate areas. Some takeaways concerning older residents:

  • New York City’s 65-and-up population was well below the state and national averages, coming to just 14.8 percent of the total, an increase of 2.6 percentage points over 2010.
  • In downstate suburban counties, the 65+ population was roughly equal to the national average, at 17.0 percent. Within that grouping, the elderly percentage ranked from a low of 15.7 percent in Rockland County to 17.8 percent in Nassau County.
  • Upstate—the 50 counties north of the mid-Hudson Valley region—the 65-and-over population was 18.2 percent of all residents. Only 10 states had more elderly residents as a share of population. The list of counties with large elderly populations was topped by Hamilton County, where elderly residents made up 31.3 percent of the population, followed by Delaware, Columbia, Essex and Warren, all of which had elderly populations of more than 22 percent.

Where the oldsters are

The top five list reflects two characteristics of New York counties with older age profiles: most, such as Delaware and Essex, are both sparsely populated and poor, but some, such as Columbia and Warren, have also become retirement havens for relatively affluent senior citizens.

The concentration of elderly residents in each county is depicted the map below.

screen-shot-2019-06-19-at-3-22-50-pm-3453111

Younger generations

New York State’s largest concentration of 25 to 34 year-olds was in New York City—topped by Manhattan, where this core millennial category made up 22.3 percent of all residents, followed by Brooklyn at 18.4 percent, and Queens and the Bronx, where millennials were 16.1 percent (although in Queens, this actually reflected a slight decrease).

The only upstate area with a 25-34 population above the national average was Jefferson County, home to the Fort Drum military base, where the millennial share was 17.1 percent. Elsewhere in upstate, Erie County had the largest 25-34 share, at 14.3 percent. This was below the national and statewide averages, but reflected an exceptionally strong gain of 2.5 percentage points since 2010.

Among upstate’s other larger counties, Monroe and Rensselaer each had millennial population shares of 14.2 percent, but Albany County’s share was only 13.3 percent and had barely grown since 2010. At the other extreme, the share of 25 to 34 year-olds in Broome County’s population decreased slightly to 11.3 percent.

The concentration of millennial population shares by county is illustrated by the map below.

screen-shot-2019-06-20-at-10-06-37-am-3223318

As for the count of children, the under-5 share of New York City’s population equaled the national average at 6.4 percent. Otherwise, the only New York counties above the U.S. average in this category were Rockland (at 8.1 percent) and Orange (6.6 percent), in part reflecting large families in large ultra-orthodox Jewish communities, and Jefferson County (7.8 percent), home to many younger military families at Fort Drum.

About the Author

E.J. McMahon

Edmund J. McMahon is Empire Center's founder and a senior fellow.

Read more by E.J. McMahon

You may also like

Here’s a tool for sorting out New York’s local population trends

Federal census data for 2020 indicate New York State's total population increased by 823,147 residents, or 4 percent, since 2010. Population gains over the last decade were concentrated in urban areas and inner suburbs, while most rural communities saw th Read More

Remote Threat 

Remote work and a more mobile professional class will increase the speed and scope of New York's ongoing out migration. Read More

Jobs grow further apart in NY

Newly revised data from the state Labor Department indicate New York's regional economic performance gap has grown larger in the last year. On a year-to-year basis, the state gained 103,900 private-sector jobs in January—a growth rate of 1.3 percent at a time when the U.S. as a whole was growing by 2.1 percent, according to the state Labor Department's monthly jobs report. Read More

The (continued) graying of NY

Compared to national and statewide averages, rural counties in upstate New York have a much larger share of residents aged 65 and older, the latest Census Bureau estimates show. The 65+ population was 15.3 percent of the U.S. total as of mid-2016, according to census data released today. The Empire State as a whole was just a hair above the national average, with 15.4 percent of New Yorkers falling into the age category that demographers generally tag as elderly. Read More

How “North NY” would stack up

If the New York counties north of the New York City metro region were to split off and become a separate state, how would it rank nationally? The question is prompted by news accounts of last weekend's Southern Tier rally by a coalition of groups whose members want upstate to secede from the rest of New York. Not all the advocates favor creation of a separate state, however. Some favor absorption into Pennsylvania, while others suggest avoiding the constitutional hurdles of full statehood by changing New York's own constitution to create two "autonomous regions" within the outline of a "token" remaining single state. In addition, their definitions of "upstate" seem to differ. Read More

NY foreign immigration falls short of out-migration

New York’s net population gain from foreign immigration failed to fully offset its net loss from domestic migration between 2010 to 2012, the latest two-year Census estimates show. Read More

The “Empire Exodus” continues

Fifty-seven of New York’s 62 counties lost more residents to other parts of the state or the nation than they gained between 2010 and 2012, according to newly released U.S. Census estimates. Eleven of those counties might be described as demographically dying Read More

The Empire State exodus continues

New York’s imminent fall from third to fourth most populous state can be attributed mainly to its heavy loss of residents to the rest of the country—a trend persisting in this decade, according to Census Bureau data released today. Read More

Subscribe

Sign up to receive updates about Empire Center research, news and events in your email.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Empire Center for Public Policy
30 South Pearl St.
Suite 1210
Albany, NY 12207

Phone: 518-434-3100

General Inquiries: Info@EmpireCenter.org

Press Inquiries: Press@EmpireCenter.org

About

The Empire Center is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank located in Albany, New York. Our mission is to make New York a better place to live and work by promoting public policy reforms grounded in free-market principles, personal responsibility, and the ideals of effective and accountable government.

Empire Center Logo Enjoying our work? Sign up for email alerts on our latest news and research.
Together, we can make New York a better place to live and work!