Growing Senior Population Is Challenge for CT Workforce

As recently as 2010, 14 percent of Connecticut’s population was age 65 or older.  By 2025, that percentage will increase to 20 percent, and will continue to climb.  The implications of a larger, older population on the state’s economy and a range of services present both challenges and opportunities for the state.  Some suggest that the state’s population will begin to look more like Florida. Florida has the greatest proportion of people who are at least 65 (17.3 percent), followed by West Virginia (16 percent), Maine (15.9 percent), Pennsylvania (15.4 percent), and Iowa (14.9 percent).   Connecticut is among the top fifteen, at 14.2 percent.  There are now more Americans age 65 and older than at any other time in U.S. history, according to the U.S. Census Bureau  - 40.3 million people age 65 and older on April 1, 2010, up 5.3 percent from 35 million in 2000 (and just 3.1 million in 1900).

Connecticut is also one of only seven states in the nation with a median age that is above 40.  The others are Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Florida, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.

In a recent presentation to a forum on education, Orlando Rodriguez, Senior Policy Fellow at Connecticut Voices for Children, noted that projections also indicate that the state’s percentage of young people, ages 0-19, will remain steady at 23 percent for the next 15 years, down slightly from the current 26 percent.  Among the state’s challenges is providing for a population at both ends of the age spectrum where costs such as education, health care and housing will be key drivers.

The pressure on the workforce is clear, as the percentage of non-workers (school age children and seniors) increases and the percentage of workers shrinks.  (One impactful variable may be the percentage of seniors who continue working, even part-time, well beyond age 65.)

The projections come as the school age population has declined statewide in recent years by 4 percent, which was largely anticipated but is soon expected to level off.  In only 26 of Connecticut’s 169 municipalities has the school age population increased between 2006-07 and 2010-11. In the remainder, the school age numbers are down, with 19 communities seen more than a 10 percent drop in student numbers and 85 percent of cities and towns experiencing a reduction in their school age population.