MERIC NEWS LETTER

Young Missourians, Young Missourians, Where are the Young Missourians?

Call them yuppies, call them Gen Xers, 25-34-year olds are critical to the overall health and future of a region’s economy. Their creative energies, skills and growing incomes can significantly impact a region’s economy as they settle, join the workforce, form households and invest their future in a region.

Regions with larger shares of this population will, in general, also have relatively more entry-level jobs, more affordable housing, and the cultural assets most desirable to this age group.

How the States Stack Up: Sun Belt vs. Frost Belt
In 2004, 13.0 percent of Missouri’s population of almost 6 million was in this age group. In 2000, that figure was 13.2 percent.  Overall, the state grew by 2.8 percent, or almost 160,000 persons, between 2000 and 2004.

The states with the highest concentration (14 percent or greater) of their total population between 25 and 34 were almost entirely Sun Belt. These were, in order, Utah (16.7 percent), Colorado, Georgia, Nevada, Texas, California, North Carolina, Arizona, Oregon, Illinois and Tennessee.

The states with the lowest concentration (below 12.4 percent) of their total population between the ages of 25 and 34 in 2004 were the central/upper plains states of Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Wisconsin and Ohio; the northeastern states of Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland; and West Virginia, New Mexico, Florida and Alaska.

New England fared particularly poorly: Maine ranked 50th (at 11 percent), Vermont 49th, New Hampshire 48th  and Connecticut 46th..

How Missouri’s Counties Stack Up
All geographical distinctions dissolve in Missouri. The counties with the highest percentage of this age group are scattered throughout the state, led by Boone, at 19.3 percent, Adair at 18.5 percent and Johnson at 17 percent. 

Here are the top ten counties for this demographic:

The counties with the lowest percent of this age group are in every region of the state. The lowest-ranking seven, however, have the commonality of starting with the letter S – Scott, St. Louis, Schuyler, Shannon, Saline, Shelby and Scotland (last, at 4.6 percent).

The map below shows the percentage change in the 25-34-year old age group for each Missouri county from 2000 to 2004. Note that the fastest-growing or more populous counties were not also the ones with the largest percentage increase in population for this demographic; St. Louis City, St. Louis County, St. Charles and Jackson counties all saw a decline in this population.

The exceptions are Boone, with a 4.1 percent change from 2000 to 2004, and Johnson, at 4.0 percent. This age group is also flourishing in rural Adair and Nodaway counties.

Christian County, perhaps best known demographically for the recent explosion of its older population, experienced modest growth in this vital demographic group from 2000 to 2004.

Source: US Census Bureau, Population Estimates.

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