America is getting older

The median age of the population is approaching 39 for the first time in history, driven by the declining number of births.

The U.S. population is aging. The average age of residents has increased to 38.9 years, the highest in history. In one-third of the states (17), citizens now average over 40 years of age. Although there continues to be more births than deaths, the birth rate continues to decline when compared to previous years, additionally, the Hispanic community continues to grow, this year alone they surpassed one million new residents.

Two decades of falling birth rate

Kristie Wilder, a demographer with the Population Division of the Census Bureau, warned that the decline in the number of births has been a constant for the past 20 years, and it is one of the most important factors contributing to the aging of the population (0.2 years between 2021 and 2022).

As the nation’s median age creeps closer to 40, you can really see how the aging of baby boomers, and now their children — sometimes called echo boomers — is impacting the median age. The eldest of the echo boomers have started to reach or exceed the nation’s median age of 38.9. While natural change nationally has been positive, as there have been more births than deaths, birth rates have gradually declined over the past two decades. Without a rapidly growing young population, the U.S. median age will likely continue its slow but steady rise.

The progress of aging is particularly noticeable if we look at the evolution of the median age since 1980. Back then, it was at 30 years, in 2020, that number had risen to 35 .

Maine, the oldest, Utah, the youngest

According to the Census report, one-third of the states exceeded 40.0 years of age on average in 2022. The state with the oldest population is Maine, at 44.8 years, followed by New Hampshire, (43.3). At the opposite end are Utah (31.9), the District of Columbia (34.8) and Texas (35.5) whose citizens are the youngest in the country.

Hawaii recorded the largest increase in median age among the states, up 0.4 years to 40.7. No state experienced a decline in average age. Four states - Alabama (39.4), Maine (44.8), Tennessee (39.1), West Virginia (42.8) and the District of Columbia (34.8) - experienced no change in their median age from 2021 to 2022.