Like the nation as a whole, New Jersey and every one of its 21 counties are getting older.
The latest estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, released last Thursday, show the continual aging of the population as the birth rate continues to decline. Just 17 percent of counties across the country experienced a decrease in median age and most of those were in the Midwest, with some of the greatest drops in Nebraska and the Dakotas. None were in New Jersey. Little more than 2 percent of the counties in the Northeast grew younger.
“Baby boomers, and millennials alike, are responsible for this trend in increased aging,” said Molly Cromwell, a demographer with the U.S. census.. “Boomers continue to age and are slowly outnumbering children as the birth rate has declined steadily over the last decade.”
Census officials have estimated that by 2035, the number of senior citizens in the United States will outnumber the number of children.
There are major implications for those demographic changes, from the greater need for medical care and facilities for those age 65 and older, to the potential for closing school buildings, to questions of the funding of the federal Social Security and Medicare programs.
While older than the nation, New Jersey’s population is aging at roughly the same rate. The median age of a New Jerseyan last year was 39.8, 2.1 percent older than in 2010. The typical American was 38 years old, 2.2 percent older than seven years earlier.
There is a wide range of ages among the state’s counties, with four having a median age younger than the national average. Here’s a ranking of the counties, from youngest to oldest, as well as statistics about each:
1. Hudson County
Median age 35.2 in 2017, one year older than in 2010. In addition to being the youngest county, Hudson was the fastest growing — rising by 9 percent from 2010 to 2017 to 691,643. The popularity of places like Jersey City and Hoboken with young professionals and the largest immigrant population throughout the state are largely responsible for both the increase in population and its relative youth.
2. Passaic County
Median age 37.2 years, 1.1 years older than in 2010. Passaic County, which also has large immigrant populations in Paterson and Passaic, grew by 2.2 percent since the last official census, to 512,607 last year.
3. Cumberland County
Median age 37.5 years, a year older than in 2010. Cumberland was the youngest of the 10 counties that lost residents since the last official census, declining by 2.6 percent to 152,538.
3 (tied) Essex County
Median age 37.5 years, 1.1 years older than in 2010. Unlike Cumberland, Essex grew in population by 3.1 percent to 808,285.
5. Mercer County
Median age 38.6 years, 11 months older than in 2010. Mercer County’s population grew by 2 percent to a population of 374,733.
5. (tie). Middlesex County
Median age 38.6 years, 1.4 years older than in 2010. The second -largest county in the state, Middlesex grew in population by 4.1 percent to 842,798.
5. (tie). Union County
Median age 38.6 years, seven months older than in 2010. Union County’s population grew by 5.1 percent, to 563,892.
8. Camden County
Median age 38.7 years, about 10 months older than in 2010. Camden’s population declined by less than 1 percent to 510,719.
9. Gloucester County
Median age 40.3 years, 1.6 years older than in 2010. Gloucester’s population rose by 1.3 percent to 292,206.
10. Atlantic County
Median age 41.5 years, 1.6 years older than in 2010. Atlantic lost population, dropping by 1.7 percent to 269,918.
11. Burlington County
Median age of 41.6 years, 1.2 years older than in 2010. Burlington’s population dropped by just a fraction to 448,596.
12. Somerset County
Median age of 41.7 years, 1.5 years older than in 2010. Somerset’s population rose by 3.7 percent to 335,432.13.
13. Bergen County
Median age 41.8 years, eight months older than in 2010. Already the state’s most populous county, Bergen grew by 4.8 percent to 948,406.
14. Salem County
Median age 42.3 years, 1.5 years older than in 2010. The state’s smallest county got even smaller, its population dropping by 5 percent to 62,792. That was the largest population decline of any county over the seven-year period.
15. Morris County
Median age 42.5 years, 1.2 years older than in 2010. The population grew by 1.5 percent to 499,693.
16. Ocean County
Median age 42.8 years, two months older than in 2010, which was the smallest rate of aging of any county. The county’s population grew by 3.7 percent to 597,943.
17. Monmouth County
Median age 43.2 years, 1.9 years older than in 2010. Monmouth’s population dropped by less than 1 percent to 626,351.
18. Warren County
Median age of 44.3 years, 2.8 years older than in 2010. Warren lost 1.7 percent of its population, dropping to 106,798.
19. Sussex County
Median age 44.8, three years older than in 2010, the greatest rate of aging of any county. Sussex also lost population, dropping to 141,682, a decrease of 4.8 percent.
20. Hunterdon County
Median age 46.5 years, 2.9 years older than in 2010. Hunterdon’s population also declined by 1.8 percent to 125,059.
21. Cape May County
Median age of 49.4 years, 2.3 years older than in 2010. The southernmost county was by far the oldest. It also lost population, dropping by 3.8 percent to 93,553.