Little-known facts about U.S. senior citizens

By Tom Musbach

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Did you know May is Older Americans Month? To help honor the occasion, here are some interesting facts from the U.S. Census Bureau.

How did May become a spotlight for senior citizens?

President John F. Kennedy designated May 1963 as Senior Citizens Month after a meeting with the National Council of Senior Citizens. The original intent was to encourage the nation to pay tribute to seniors. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter signed a proclamation changing the name to Older Americans Month, a time to celebrate people who are 65 and older.

How big is the senior citizen population?

There were 40.3 million people who are 65 and older in the United States as of April 1, 2010. This accounts for 13% of the total population.

This is the largest total for this age group so far in the decennial census, up from 35 million in 2000. Projection: The estimated figure for this age group in 2050 is 88.5 million, or 20% of the total U.S. population.

How many older Americans are in the workforce?

In 2010 there were 6.7 million people aged 65 and older in the labor force, or 16.1%  of the total workforce. Of those workers, 42% are employed in management, Expert, and related occupations.

Projections indicate that number will nearly double by 2018 to 11.1 million.

What is the median age of the older population?

Of all the Americans who are 65 and older, the median age was 74.1 in 2010. However, the fastest growing age group among the older population is 85-94.

What state has the highest percentage of older Americans?

No surprise here: Florida has the highest percentage (17.3) of residents who are 65 or older. Rounding out the top five are West Virginia (16%), Maine (15.9%), Pennsylvania (15.4%), and Iowa (14.9%).

Between 2000 and 2010, there were 20 counties that experienced at least a doubling of their populations of 65-and-over residents.

For more interesting statistics, visit the Census Bureau site. And don't forget to celebrate and honor somebody who is 65 or older this month!