Boom and Bust Sweeping Vermont—A Population Tsunami of More Seniors, Children and Working Age Residents in Decline
At a Burlington governor candidates forum November 2, 2015, all expressed concern over the need for more working age population—a Republican and a Democrat called for the State to grow its population to 700,000 to provide for economic stability. The candidates face a Vermont tide of declining working age population, a doubling of senior residents, and collapse of school aged children numbers during the current 2010-2030 period. The 2010-2030 State average estimate of total growth of 19,500, 3.1%, barely pushes the population needle from the 2010 number, 625,700 to 645,300 in 2030. The estimated growth of senior age residents, 4.446 yearly, exceeds the total population of towns like Stowe, Richmond, Rutland Town or Manchester.
The tide of an aging population paired with declining non-senior population remains typical for slow growth areas like New England and the upper mid-West—with Vermont’s senior population growth typical of all states.
Vermont now moves into the second quarter of a 20 year period of population decline in all key age groups but one—a senior population which almost doubles 2010-2030, an average estimate from 88,900 residents 65-years-and over to a 2030 total of 180,500. The average population projection for 2030 places the total State population of 645,300 with seniors comprising 25.9% compared to 14.6% share in the 2010 Census.
The radical change in Vermont population trends since the 2010 Census include a year of actual decline and for 2014 estimated total population declines in nine of fourteen Vermont counties. In the State projections averaged, the decline in 0-19 population is 27,100 and for the prime working age 20-64 42,200.
The two official State population estimates averaged does show a 3.1% growth or 19,500 2010-2030. But even Chittenden County which accounts for over half the 3.1% growth for the State loses in the all the key age groups under 65: -10.8% in under 19 aged, -19.7% college aged 20-24, and -4.6 in the prime working aged population 20-64.
While Chittenden County declines in the younger population reflect a major departure from historic patterns going back a half century, the numbers neighboring county Addison startle: 0-19 age -35.9%, 20-64 age -20.7, overall under 65 22.5%. Seniors 65 and over? Up 112.2% from 5,100 to an estimated 10,800.
This analysis averages the two growth estimates, Scenarios A and B, from “Vermont Population Estimates 2010-2030” published by the State of Vermont in 2013, and the report may viewed at http://dail.vermont.gov/dail-publications/publications-general-reports/vt-population-projections-2010-2030