Special Report

Custer County, Colorado Has One of the Oldest Populations in the Nation

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The U.S. population is older now than it has been since record keeping began. The median age in the United States is 38.2 years, up from 36.9 years a decade ago, and from less than 30 in the 1970s.

This trend is the result of several factors – both long and short term. For one, Americans are now living longer than they have in past decades. Driven in part by improvements in health care, average life expectancy at birth in the U.S. is now about 77 years, five years longer than it was in the mid-1970s. More recently, falling birth rates and tightened restrictions on immigration – particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic – have accelerated the aging of the U.S. population.

In some U.S. counties, the median age is far higher than the national median. According to data from the Census Bureau, in Custer County, Colorado, the median age is 60.1 – about 22 years higher than the national median. A reported 34.1% of local residents are 65 and older, while only 16.8% are 18 and under. For context, 15.9% of the U.S. population are 65 or older and 24.1% are 18 and under.

Residents of Custer County also appear to be less likely than a typical American to be starting or raising a family. The share of area households that are home to children under the age of 18 is just 8.8%, well below the 30.7% comparable nationwide share.

All data in this story are five-year estimates from the Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey. All U.S. counties and county equivalents were considered except those for which median age was not available or the sampling error associated with a county’s data was deemed too high.

 

Rank County Median age (years) Pop. 18 and under (%) Pop. 65 and over (%)
1 Sumter County, Florida 68.0 8.3 61.8
2 Custer County, Colorado 60.1 16.8 34.1
3 Charlotte County, Florida 59.5 13.2 40.2
4 Highland County, Virginia 59.5 14.3 38.8
5 Catron County, New Mexico 59.4 14.4 41.6
6 Northumberland County, Virginia 59.3 15.6 38.5
7 Ontonagon County, Michigan 59.1 13.2 35.9
8 Jefferson County, Washington 59.0 12.9 37.1
9 Alcona County, Michigan 58.9 13.6 36.0
10 Keweenaw County, Michigan 58.3 14.9 35.9
11 Llano County, Texas 57.7 15.4 36.8
12 Dolores County, Colorado 57.5 15.2 37.5
13 La Paz County, Arizona 57.4 16.9 40.0
14 Lancaster County, Virginia 57.2 16.6 35.7
15 Wheeler County, Oregon 56.9 18.6 34.4
16 Quitman County, Georgia 56.9 13.7 31.0
17 Pope County, Illinois 56.8 16.1 31.1
18 San Juan County, Washington 56.7 14.1 33.4
19 Citrus County, Florida 56.7 15.7 36.4
20 Sarasota County, Florida 56.6 15.2 36.4
21 Roscommon County, Michigan 56.6 15.5 32.4
22 McCormick County, South Carolina 56.6 13.3 37.8
23 Mora County, New Mexico 56.6 13.3 31.0
24 Curry County, Oregon 56.3 14.7 34.3
25 Meagher County, Montana 56.3 20.7 31.8
26 Boyd County, Nebraska 56.2 18 32.0
27 Montmorency County, Michigan 56.0 15.7 31.4
28 Custer County, South Dakota 55.9 15.3 30.1
29 Aitkin County, Minnesota 55.9 17.5 32.8
30 Sierra County, New Mexico 55.9 16.7 35.7
31 Wahkiakum County, Washington 55.7 18.8 32.2
32 Presque Isle County, Michigan 55.7 16.9 31.3
33 Huerfano County, Colorado 55.6 18.1 33.0
34 Iron County, Wisconsin 55.6 15.7 30.0
35 Hamilton County, New York 55.5 15.1 30.9
36 Adams County, Idaho 55.3 16.6 30.3
37 Union County, Georgia 55.2 17.8 32.9
38 Foard County, Texas 55.1 19.9 32.2
39 Vilas County, Wisconsin 55.1 17.2 31.0
40 Hickory County, Missouri 55.0 18.4 33.1
41 Brunswick County, North Carolina 54.7 16.1 31.4
42 Middlesex County, Virginia 54.7 17.7 31.8
43 Leelanau County, Michigan 54.6 16.9 30.9
44 Esmeralda County, Nevada 54.6 13.5 25.6
45 Granite County, Montana 54.6 20.1 29.3
46 Sullivan County, Pennsylvania 54.5 12.1 26.7
47 Sanders County, Montana 54.5 18.6 30.9
48 Griggs County, North Dakota 54.4 21.2 29.2
49 Pacific County, Washington 54.4 16.6 31.6
50 Fall River County, South Dakota 54.4 19.2 27.5

 

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