With the aging and retirement of baby boomers, the U.S. as a nation is growing older, the U.S. Census Bureau said this last month. Locally, despite its reputation as a retirement community, Grayson County is comfortably in its late 30s and not aging, the report found.
The bureau reported that the country’s median age — the point where half the population is younger and the other half older — rose from 37.2 years in 2010 to about 37.9 in July 2016. The survey included data collected in official censuses in 2000, 2010 and estimates for 2016.
“The baby-boom generation is largely responsible for this trend,” Peter Borsella, a demographer in the Population Division, said in the report, defining baby boomers as those born between 1946 and 1964. “Baby boomers began turning 65 in 2011 and will continue to do so for many years to come.”
While Grayson County skewed older, its median age only rose from 39.5 to 39.6 from 2010 to 2016. By comparison, the median age for Grayson County in 2000 was 37.2 years old. Neighboring Cooke and Fannin Counties also grew older with a median age of 40.1 and 42.3, respectively.
The report found that every state saw an increase in the median age, or had the same median age as the previous year. Maine had the highest median age at 44.6 years with Utah coming in at the youngest with a median age of 30.8 years. By comparison, Texas remained among the five youngest states, with a median age of 34.5.
When asked about the apparent slow aging of Grayson County, Lila Valencia, representing the Texas Demographic Center, said the answer lies in the age distribution and not simply in the median age.
“When we pull data, we are looking not just at the median age but also the age distribution,” she said. “How many people are in each segment of the population.”
By comparing this data for 2000, 2010 and 2016, Valencia said she can see the signs of an aging community in Grayson County. From 2010 to 2016, the population in Grayson County over the age of 65 grew by 17.95 percent, making up 17 percent of the population. This makes the elderly population the quickest growing population in the county, she said.
By comparison, this increase was lower than that of both the state of Texas and the U.S., which saw the elderly population grow by 28.88 percent and 22.29 percent, respectively. However, the percentage of the population over 65 only makes up 12 percent and 15 percent of the Texas and U.S. populations, respectively.
Despite the increase in Grayson County’s elderly population, Valencia said this was followed by those under the age of 18. Valencia said the group only grew by about 5.09 percent in the past six years, but they outnumbered the elderly with 24 percent of the population. In addition to the influx of minors, Grayson County also saw a 6.52 percent increase in population for those between the ages of 18 and 44.
This comes as the U.S. has seen a decrease in population of those under age 18 over the past six years. Valencia said the growth in young people in Grayson County, counter to the loss seen across the country, likely helped temper the impact the aging population had, leading to the reduced rate.
Despite this trend, Valencia said she still sees Grayson County as an aging community and doesn’t expect that trend to change any time soon.
When asked about the two growing groups, Grayson County Judge Bill Magers attributed it to two different trends — empty nesters looking for a place to down size and retire, and younger families who are attracted by the low cost of living and proximity to the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.
“The good news is that the county is growing and it is growing across all age ranges,” he said.
As a sign of these growing demographics, Magers noted the growth the region has seen in its medical community and industries aimed at the aging population. At the same time, Magers said many area school districts have recently discussed or approved bonds for the expansion and growth of their facilities.
“They are not mutually exclusive in any extent,” he said. “I think it ends up with a well-rounded community.”
Sherman Mayor David Plyler said he was surprised to learn that Grayson County’s median age has not moved significantly. However, he added that he wasn’t surprised to learn about the growth the region is seeing.
“Sherman, Denison and Grayson County remain a desirable place to be due to low tax rate, desirable amenities and a thriving downtown,” he said. “I think in general we have so much to offer both retirees and young families. Retirees want to be out and about in the community as much as young families do. There is commonality there.”
While the region has historically been popular with retirees and those trying to get away from the Metroplex, Denison Mayor Jared Johnson said the increase in the young population likely is due to efforts by local leaders to recruit employers and encourage job growth in the area.
“It kinda speaks to what you see in local cities, attempts to attract young professionals and their families,” he said.
In addition to growing older, the report found that the U.S. is growing more diverse with many minority populations growing faster than the white population. From July 1, 2015 to July 1, 2016 the Hispanic population grew by 2 percent to 57.5 million, with the African-American population growing by 1.2 percent to 46.8 million. By comparison, the white population grew by 0.5 percent to 256 million.