Population Pyramids Show Generations of Change in Oakland County
(Kurt Metzger, July 26, 2022)
Oakland County, MI – The Census Bureau has released detailed age and race/ethnicity estimates for states and counties for 2021. (https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/popest/data/tables.html) Since I have written about decreasing births and increasing deaths in Oakland County, I thought this would be a good opportunity to see how Oakland County’s age structure has changed over the last 50+ years. I selected 1960 – the height of the baby boom – as the year to compare with 2021. I also threw in 1990 as a midpoint between the two. The results of that analysis are seen in the three Population Pyramids below.
While “pyramid” is clearly the shape of the population in 1960 – largest bands on the bottom (lowest age groups), with decreasing band length up until “85 years and over,” the 1990 pyramid resembles a pagoda with an “increasing waistband,” while the 2021 picture is more that of a “population rectangle” until it tails off at 70 years and above.
In order to best understand the AGE REVERSAL that has occurred over this period, allow me to present the most obvious distinctions.
- In 1960, 42.8 percent of Oakland County’s population was less than 20 years of age. That dropped to 27.3 percent in 1990, and fell to just 22.9 percent by 2021. [The population less than 10 years of age has dropped from 26.0 to 14.1 to 11.3 percent.]
- In 1960, only 5.5 percent of the population was 65 years and over. The share grew to 10.9 percent in 1990 and jumped to 17.4 percent in 2021.
- Knocking on the door of senior citizenship are those between 50 and 64 years of age. This group has increased from 12.0 to 21.4 percent.
SEMCOG projects that Oakland County’s “working-age” population (18-64 years) will fall by 4.6 percent over the next 25 years, while the senior population (65+) will increase by 43.2 percent. (https://semcog.org/Community-Profiles)
It is time that county leadership take a look at these data and begin to develop efforts to build back the lower and middle sections of the pyramid. In order to continue being the “growth engine” of the state, Oakland County must develop strategies – particularly around housing – that will serve to attract and retain a younger, working-age population.
For more stories about the Census and other interesting numbers, visit the Data-Base Stories Archives on Oakland County Times. Thanks to Data Expert Kurt Metzger for this work!