Sticking with a national and statewide trend, the population in Southwest Ohio got older and continued to become more diverse in 2016.
According to annual population estimates released this week by the U.S. Census Bureau, the median age of residents in nine local counties has increased since the last official census and the percentage of minorities grew.
FROM 2016: Miami Valley getting older, more diverse
Age and racial makeup appear to go hand-in-hand to some extent. Some of the youngest counties — Warren, Montgomery and Butler each with a median age under 40 — were the ones that saw the largest increase in diversity from 2010 to 2016, according to the census numbers. But even those counties have aging populations.
“Our country’s demographic profile is aging and looks a lot different than it did two decades ago,” said Lauren Medina, a demographer with the U.S. Census Bureau. “We are really seeing the impact of the baby boomers who started turning 65 in 2011.”
The nation’s median age rose from 35.3 in 2000 to 37.9 in July of 2016.
“That may not sound like a lot but consider this… residents age 65 and over grew by 14.2 million people between 2000 and 2016, making up 15.2 percent of the population,” Medina said.
Ohio’s median age is above the national mark at 39.3 years and some local counties are even higher. Preble County is the area’s oldest at a median age of 42.4 years, up from 40.9 in 2010.
The new census’ estimates only break down information on race, sex and age to the county level.
As the baby boomers bring the median age up, the younger generations are increasing the nation’s diversity.
Every racial group experienced a natural population increase, meaning more births than deaths, between 2015 and 2016, according to census demographer Molly Cromwell. With one notable exception.
Those that identify as white and non-Hispanic experienced a natural decrease with 163,300 more deaths than births nationwide.
Butler County had the largest shift in racial makeup since 2010, according to the census data.
In 2010, the county was 88 percent white, 8.5 percent black and 3 percent Asian. Hispanics, who can identify as black or white, accounted for 4 percent of the population.
Last year, those numbers had shifted to 86 percent white, 10 percent black and 4 percent Asian with 5 percent of the population identifying as Hispanic or Latino. Butler County’s Hispanic population numbers more than 18,000, according to the estimates.
The growth of the Hispanic community has meant new small businesses opening and more families with young children in an otherwise aging area, said Shelly Jarrett Bromberg, professor in Miami University’s Department of Spanish and Portuguese.
“As we grow older our young people… they are leaving,” she said. “That we have this young popluation that is here is great. They are going to school, they are working.”
She said there are three main populations in the area, the largest being immigrants from Mexico. But there are also those of Guatemalan decent, many living in the West Chester area; and those from the Dominican Republic, living in both Middletown and Hamilton.