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Census: Arizonans older as demographics shift

Census figures set to be released Thursday show shifts in the state’s population, with the percentage of Arizonans ages 14 and younger dropping in the past decade and an increase in the number of people ages 65 and older.

The state’s median age also increased by almost two years to 35.9, according to the 2010 figures, and females now make up 50.3 percent of the population — that’s two-tenths of a percent more than 10 years ago.

The new data reveals that the state is following a national pattern with senior populations getting larger and the percentage of younger people becoming a little bit smaller, Arizona State University economist Lee McPheters said. But the change isn’t staggering, and more important is the huge growth during the decade that ended in 2010, with the state adding 1.26 million residents to reach 6.39 million people.

“I think that when we have the final national numbers Arizona will still be either at or below the national median age,” McPheters said. “So this is not a state that is dominated by seniors. Even though the number of seniors was up by about 213,000 and the percent of 65-and-over went up.”

That sector, with the aging baby boomers, is expected to grow.

The recession that began in December 2007 and the collapse in housing prices likely kept many seniors from moving to Arizona, traditionally a haven for retirees from the northern states, McPheters said.

“Right now in this current economy it is very difficult for a lot of seniors to relocate to Arizona because they would involve selling a house,” he said.

Even with the increasing percentage of seniors, people age 19 and younger still dominate the population.

“Even though that percentage of 19 and younger is smaller, we still added 300,000 more young people,” McPheters said. “So their percent of the overall population is smaller but there’s more of them.”

Arizona remained the second-fastest growing state in the decade behind Nevada and will likely retain a spot in the Top 5 through the coming decade.

More detail of the state’s growing Hispanic population was also included in the latest Census figures. Details released in January showed Arizona’s Hispanic population grew from just over 25 percent to nearly 30 percent of the population, adding 599,632 residents to reach 1.89 million.

The new figures show more than 98 percent of those new Hispanic residents told census-takers they were from Mexico. The number of Puerto Ricans grew by nearly 98 percent but still make up less than ½ of a percent of the state’s population, and Cubans also showed slight increases. But those saying they were of other Hispanic or Latino origin dropped by 7 percent.

The population of Asians nearly doubled to more than 84,000, with people saying they were Asian Indian leading with a 144 percent increase.

A smaller percentage of Arizonans were living in traditional households. The number of people living alone increased from 24.8 percent of the population to 26.1 percent. Meanwhile, the number of people who said they were living as a husband-wife family fell from 51.9 percent to 48.1 percent.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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