Survey shows aging population in Washington

Published 3:56 pm Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Washington’s population got older from 2011 to 2015, and the city’s female residents tend to be older than its male residents (median ages), according to a survey conducted every five years by the federal government.

The median age for Washington 9,777 residents is 43, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 American Community Survey. The survey puts the median age for male residents at 39, with the median age for female residents at 47. In 2011, the median age for city residents was 39. That same year, the median age for male residents was 36.8, and the median age for female residents was 42.6.

(A median is the value separating the higher half of a data sample, a population or a probability distribution from the lower half. A median is also known as the middle value of a data set.)

The survey shows more female residents make up the city’s population than male residents, with 5,530 female residents and 4,247 male residents, or 1,283 more female residents than male residents. In Beaufort County, there are 24,751 female residents to 23,008 male residents, according to the survey.

Statewide, there are more female residents than male residents, according to the survey. Of the state’s 9.5 million residents, 4.9 million are female residents, with 4.6 million are men. Nationally, there are 157 million female residents to 152 million male residents.

An informal survey indicates area residents have varied views on the city’s population.

In a Facebook post, Meredith Loughlin wrote: “I feel that Washington has a lot of young families, and retired people, but there are not a lot of young adults (like from age 18-28).” She might be surprised at the number of young adults in the city.
The largest age group in the city’s population (by percentage) is the group that includes residents under 5 years old at 8.6 percent. The next highest age group is the 20-to-24 years age group at 8.2 percent. The 55-to-59 years age group at 8 percent. The lowest age group is the 15-to-19 years age group at 3.2 percent.

Of the city’s population, 77.7 percent are 16 years old or older. Just 2.1 percent are ages 15 to 17, according to the survey.

As for why the city’s young adult population is not larger, former Beaufort County Commissioner Robert Belcher, in a Facebook post, has a theory. “Meredith is right in that many young people choose no to stay because good jobs are not available as well as the amenities they seek,” he wrote in his post.

Mae Stallings Carr posted similar views: “I think we have a good amount of young people in school, but I think we have a lot of retirees also! When the young people go away to college most of them do not come back because there are no jobs for them to come back to. Most of the small towns now are mostly known for good retirement towns and I think that is mostly what Washington is centering their interests on.”

Crystal Holman, who works at Arts of the Pamlico, contends: “I feel the population is older versus younger.”

The city’s “senior citizens” population (62 years old and older) accounts for 26.5 percent of the overall population.

Julia M. Gray posted this comment on Facebook: “Seems to me that Beaufort County is changing. Apparently, the number of retirees moving to Beaufort County is balancing the number of younger people leaving to find work and better opportunities. Obviously, opinion only, that fact is changing the character of the county more than the population numbers. Also, when I read obituaries it seems a large number of children and grandchildren of the deceased live elsewhere. That tells me that young people and those still of working age are moving elsewhere. Sales of family-sized homes are slow, apparently, which tells me that young families are not moving here for work.”

The percentages for the age categories have a margin of error ranging from 0.9 percent to 2.3 percent.


About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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