AURORA | Like the rest of the country, Aurora is made up of two worlds: one, where more people than ever are at the age they’re either hitting up happy hours and kombucha bars, or they’re seeking out senior discounts and early bird specials.
This is a city getting older and with a much younger population growing fast, according to a recent Census report.
It’s a trend much of the rest of the nation is also seeing.
In Aurora, not only is a larger segment of the population already living here getting older and more ethnically diverse, the boom of new residents are older and more likely to be minority as well, Census and city officials report.
White residents, while being the largest ethnic group, are no longer the majority in Aurora. Other non-white minorities, when considered together, make up more of the city’s population than whites. Estimates, however, show that the white population is more than twice the size of any other single minority group, and it’s growing.
City officials, citing an Esri Business Analysis that Aurora purchases for municipal planning, said the striking trends show that the city is definitely getting older.
While the city’s average — median — age has increased from 33 to 37.8 during the past seven years, Aurora officials reported, Aurora is gaining a younger population. Millennials and Generation X take up a larger population than the Baby Boomer generation, causing Aurora to have a younger age median than the rest of the nation.
The number of residents age 65 and older in Aurora has grown from close to 9 percent in 2010 to a projected 11 percent in 2016 according to the Esri analysis.
Aurora is using the analysis of the population to help plan for the future, determining housing and service needs as the city ages, too, according to Bob Watkins. Watkins is a retired former director of the city of Aurora’s Planning & Development Services Department and now a project co-manager for the Aurora Places comprehensive planning project.
“We’ve gotten a fairly good handle on what people are concerned about,” Watkins said. “What we are working on right now are the strategies to address those concerns. We’ll be working for the next few months on, what are the priorities, actions and strategies that the city needs to put in place given its resources.”
Boom in young people in Aurora
Aurora’s youngest generation, born from 2001 to 2016, is growing along with they city, officials said, but at a slower rate than across the country. It means that Aurora’s existing population is having fewer children than earlier city populations.
Aurora Public Schools and the city of Aurora monitor growth and need throughout the city. Cory Christiansen, public information officer of Aurora Public Schools. Even then, population statistics don’t always reflect what is going on locally.
“Aurora Public Schools has a planning department, which closely tracks population and enrollment trends. The department is continually monitoring these trends so that we can respond appropriately,” he said. “Some parts of our district are experiencing enrollment declines mainly due to rising rent and home prices. Schools in other parts of the district are at or above capacity.”
Aurora Public Schools hires bilingual teachers for many different languages to help foreign born students learn English. Aurora Public Schools offer languages from Spanish and Amharic to Nepali and Swahili.
The city of Aurora has the Office of International and Immigrant Affairs to also help with immigrants and refugees integration in Aurora. Ricardo Gambetta, the head of the office of International and Immigrant Affairs said that there are even free English classes offered on the weekends to help older generations and struggling English learners.
“We are the only city that actually has an immigration integration plan,” Gambetta said. “We tried to focus on the English language and add classes on the language. Language is important and we will continue working on these kinds of efforts.”
Across the country
Every ethnic and racial group grew across the country between 2015 and 2016, but the number of whites continued to increase at the slowest rate — less than one hundredth of 1 percent, or 5,000 people, the Census estimate shows. That’s a fraction of the rates of growth for non-white Hispanics, Asians and people who said they are multi-racial, according to the government’s annual estimates of population.
President Donald Trump’s core support in the racially divisive 2016 election came from white voters, and polls showed that it was especially strong among those who said they felt left behind in an increasingly racially diverse country. In fact, the Census Bureau projects whites will remain in the majority in the U.S. until after 2040.
AN AGING NATION
The Census Bureau reported that the median age of Americans — the age at which half are older and half are younger — rose nationally from just over 35 years to nearly 38 years in the years between 2000 and 2016, driven by the aging of the “baby boom” generation.
The number of residents age 65 and older grew from 35 million to 49.2 million during those 16 years, jumping from 12 percent of the total population to 15 percent.
That’s a costly leap for taxpayers as those residents move to Medicare, government health care for seniors and younger people with disabilities, which accounted for $1 out of every $7 in federal spending last year, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. By 2027, it will cost $1 out of every $6 of federal money spent. Net Medicare spending is expected to nearly double over the next decade, from $592 billion to $1.2 trillion, the KFF reported.
Sumter County, Florida, home of The Villages, a large retirement community, had the highest median age increase, rising from 49 years old in 2000 to 67 years old in 2016. Over that time period, 56 U.S. counties showed a median age increase of 10 years or more.
BOOM IN YOUNG PEOPLE
The Census report also showed that children in the U.S. born from 2001 through 2016 were the nation’s fastest-growing age group, with a 6.8 percent jump in the year beginning July 1, 2015. Other age groups either lost or gained population by less than a percentage point, according to the Census Bureau.
That means more demand on taxpayers for schools, bilingual education and accommodations for English language learners, as well as recruiting a corps of educators that reflects the nation’s students. Robert Hull, executive vice president of the National Association of State Boards of Education, said a majority of students in the U.S. are not white, but that 82 percent of teachers are white.
“It’s not just the services offered or what we do for the students but who is delivering those services,” Hull said.
The number of English language learners in U.S. public schools was about 4.6 million in the 2014-2015 school year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
FACE OF A NATION
All race and ethnic groups grew in the year before July 1, 2016, the Census reported.
The Asian population and those who identified as being of two or more races grew by 3 percent each, to 21 million and 8.5 million, respectively. Hispanics grew by 2 percent to 57.5 million. The black population grew by 1.2 percent to nearly 47 million.
The number of non-Hispanic whites grew by only 5,000, leaving that population relatively steady at 198 million of the nation’s 325 million people.
A Pew Research Center analysis of the Census’ current population survey found that white turnout increased in the 2016 election, while black turnout dropped and the nonwhite share of the U.S. electorate remained flat compared with the 2012 election.
“Any sort of impact on politics may be several decades in the future,” said Mark Hugo Lopez, director of Hispanic research for the Pew Research Center.
California had both the largest number of whites and non-white Hispanics in 2016, 30 million and 15.3 million, respectively.
Texas had the largest numeric increase in both the white and non-white Hispanic populations.
As for the share of a state’s overall population, New Mexico had the highest percentage of nonwhite Hispanics at 48.5 percent. Maine had the largest percentage of whites, nearly 97 percent.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.