Census survey: Maine’s still the oldest, whitest state

Posted June 25, 2015, at 12:30 p.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — Maine’s median age continued to rise faster than the national average last year, leaving the state as the country’s oldest and whitest, according to census estimates released Thursday.

While about 95 percent of the state’s population identifies as white, populations of other races have been growing the fastest, making gains within a relatively small portion of the state’s 1.3 million residents.

That trend comes as the nation as a whole grows more racially diverse and the Millennial generation — born between 1982 and 2000 — takes over the baby boomer generation.

The latest census found that the country’s youngest populations are the most racially and ethnically diverse, becoming “majority-minority” for the first time last year. That is, 50.2 percent of that population was part of a minority race or ethnic group, the Census Bureau’s 2014 survey found.

That trend bears out in Maine as well, with a more diverse younger population, but to a much lesser extent. The number of Mainers younger than 5 years old is estimated to be 89 percent white, compared with a population over 65 that is 98.1 percent white.

As a whole, Maine’s population was 95 percent white in 2014.

The data released Thursday also show age trends for the state, which remained the country’s oldest.

From 2013 to 2014, Maine continued to grow older at one of the fastest rates in the country, with the median age ticking up three-tenths of a year, to 44.2. Economists have expressed concern over that trend and its implications for the state’s workforce and social safety net programs that depend, in part, on younger workers.

The national median age rose one-tenth of a year, to 37.7.

The increase in Maine’s median age from 2013 to 2014 matched the rates of some of the country’s youngest states, including Utah and Arizona, making Maine’s increase more substantial as it was already the country’s oldest state.

The latest estimates also drill down to those trends at the county level. The state’s oldest counties, by median age, were Piscataquis (50.2), Lincoln (50.1) and Hancock (47.9). The youngest counties were Androscoggin (40.9), Penobscot (41.5) and Cumberland (42.3).

No county in Maine had its median age decline in 2014.

 

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