Remember the headlines a few years back declaring that Florida was no longer THE retirement haven.
Not so fast.
New Census Bureau estimates released Thursday show that 18.2 percent of Floridians are over age 65, the highest rate of any state in the nation. Maine and West Virginia rank second and third, respectively. Alaska had the lowest share of older residents, at 8.5 percent, followed by Utah and Texas.
Among counties, just under half of Sumter County’s residents are over age 65, the highest share of any county in the nation. The county located about 40 miles northwest of Orlando is home to the retirement community, The Villages, and also is one of the fastest-growing regions of the state.
The county with the next-highest percentage of seniors in the nation was Charlotte County in southwest Florida, where over a third of the population is over age 65.
Statewide, almost all counties experienced slower growth or a reversal of boomer population growth since 2010, said Mark Mather, an associate vice president for the Population Reference Bureau who analyzed the numbers.
“The recent decline in migration rates among baby boomers is significant because boomers were expected to jump-start economic growth in rural America,” said Mather, noting that parts of the rural Midwest and Appalachia had been losing population for decades. “But since the recession, we’ve seen more boomers aging in place.”
Nationally, the 65-and-older population grew 4.3 percent between 2011 and 2012, to 43.1 million, or 13.7 percent of the U.S. population.The 85-and-older population increased by about 3 percent from 2011 to 2012, to almost 5.9 million. The number of centenarians rose to almost 62,000.
Finally, the nation’s median age rose to 37.5, up from 37.3 in 2011.