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Associated Press, Published May 14 2009

Census finds increase in children, baby boomers in North Dakota

New census numbers show North Dakota is gaining young people while facing a “bubble” of aging baby boomers who could increase demands on health care and other services.

The figures being released today show the number of North Dakotans under age 5 increased by about 2,500, or about 6 percent, from 2000 to 2008.

State Data Center Director Richard Rathge said the state’s young adult population, ages 18 to 24, increased 13 percent during that period.

“Those are two trends we really needed to see change, and obviously, they’re changing,” he said. “If we can hang on to those folks, that’s good news for North Dakota.”

Other groups of young people were down. The number of school-age children, ages 5 to 17, declined by about 17 percent from 2000 to 2008 and the 25- to 44-year-old age group dropped 11 percent.

The census figures show a 42 percent increase in people ages 55 to 59 and a 27 percent jump in ages 60 to 64 since 2000. Rathge calls it a “big bubble” of people who may drop out of the work force after they get older.

The new figures also show North Dakota leads other states in the percentage of people age 85 and older last year, at about 3 percent, he said. That group grew about 21 percent from 2000 to 2008.

Nationally, the AARP estimates nearly one in every five Americans will be between the ages of 50 and 64 by 2015.

Florida recorded the highest percentage of its total population age 65 and older, at 17 percent, the census figures show.

The new figures show North Dakota is one of 11 states with more men than women: The state has an estimated 321,933 men and 319,548 women.

“In large part, it’s very good news,” Rathge said of the overall numbers. “However, we have to recognize the impact of the senior population, and the losses in kindergarten through fifth grade for some time.”