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Growing Senior Population Is Challenge for State Workforce

An older, larger population in Connecticut in the coming years will impact the state's economy.

As recently as 2010, 14 percent of Connecticut’s population was age 65 or older.  By 2025, that percentage will increase to 20 percent, and will continue to climb.  The implications of a larger, older population on the state’s economy and a range of services present both challenges and opportunities for the state.  Some suggest that the state’s population will begin to look more like Florida.

Florida has the greatest proportion of people who are at least 65 (17.3 percent), followed by West Virginia (16 percent), Maine (15.9 percent), Pennsylvania (15.4 percent), and Iowa (14.9 percent).   Connecticut is among the top fifteen, at 14.2 percent. 

There are now more Americans age 65 and older than at any other time in U.S. history, according to the U.S. Census Bureau  – 40.3 million people age 65 and older on April 1, 2010, up 5.3 percent from 35 million in 2000 (and just 3.1 million in 1900).

Connecticut is also one of only seven states in the nation with a median age that is above 40.  The others are Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Florida, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.

In a recent presentation to a forum on education, Orlando Rodriguez, Senior Policy Fellow at Connecticut Voices for Children, noted that projections also indicate that the state’s percentage of young people, ages 0-19, will remain steady at 23 percent for the next 15 years, down slightly from the current 26 percent.  Among the state’s challenges is providing for a population at both ends of the age spectrum where costs such as education, health care and housing will be key drivers.

The pressure on the workforce is clear, as the percentage of non-workers (school age children and seniors) increases and the percentage of workers shrinks.  (One impactful variable may be the percentage of seniors who continue working, even part-time, well beyond age 65.)

The projections come as the school age population has declined statewide in recent years by 4 percent, which was largely anticipated but is soon expected to level off.  In only 26 of Connecticut’s 169 municipalities has the school age population increased between 2006-07 and 2010-11. In the remainder, the school age numbers are down, with 19 communities seen more than a 10 percent drop in student numbers and 85 percent of cities and towns experiencing a reduction in their school age population.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

J. Wiley Dumas February 28, 2013 at 08:39 PM
This article misses the point that many people, aged 65 and older, are forced to remain as part of the workforce in this economy. I won't belabor the various reasons here, but one must also take into consideration the growing number of recent college graduates that choose the remain in academia, be it for masters or doctoral degrees, in order to avoid the 'Real World', or simply because the job market for their chosen field is closed. No, it's not right that so many people aged 65 and older are still a part of the work force, but it is also not right that these very people have been forced to keep working far past the age they should be able to sit back and enjoy the fruits of the life's hard labor in this dismal economy. As to the decrease in school-aged population, I believe that this is due to many of Connecticut's residents leaving the state due to increased taxes, and seeking their fortunes in states that do not tax evey single breath of air one takes in. Until changes are made that allow people to thrive rather than merely survive in this state, the problem will continue.

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