Most of my comments still apply, but I should correct the following:
Another statistic reported by the NYT is the Census Bureau's projection of state population trends until 2030. Which, as near as I can tell, they managed to get wrong. They claim 30.4% of Vermont's population will be 65 or older in 2030; in contrast (they claim) 25.7% of the US's population will be 65 or older then.I read this too quickly. The percentages reported by the NYT were percentages of the adult population, not the total population. And it's easy to do the calculation from this Census Bureau spreadsheet to reproduce the values reported by the NYT. My bad.
But the Census Bureau's spreadsheet (Excel, sorry) puts these values at 24.4% for Vermont, and 19.7% for the US. Vermont's projected to be the eighth "oldest" state in 2030.
However, as long as I was exercising my long-defunct spreadsheet skills, I did the calculation for all the states (plus DC). It turns out that while 30.4% of Vermont adults are projected to be over 65 in 2030, that number is 33.9% for Florida. And seven other states are projected to have higher percentages of over-65 adults than Vermont (specifically: New Mexico, Wyoming, Maine, Montana, North and South Dakota, and West Virginia). (The number for New Hampshire is 27.3%)
So, while Vermont's projected to be significantly older than the US average in the near future (at least by this measure), they're hardly unique.
Credit for this correction goes to Renee Murawski at the NYT who politely pointed out my error after I badgered the Public Editor.
However, the original NYT article also contained this:
While Vermont's population of young people shrinks, the number of older residents is multiplying because Vermont increasingly attracts retirees from other states. It is now the second-oldest state, behind Maine.My comment in the original posting:
According to the Census Bureau, the "oldest" state in the 2000 Census was (of course) Florida, with 17.6% of its population over 65. Maine was 12th (14.4%) and Vermont was in 31st place (12.7%). I doubt things changed that much in 6 years.My source was this Census Bureau spreadsheet.
When pressed on this point, Ms. Murawski said:
Regarding your disputing Vermont's ranking as the second-oldest state, behind Maine, there are indeed several ways to measure "oldness.'' Pam Belluck, who wrote the article, says that median age, which is what the article used, is commonly used by demographers and state officials to describe how old a state is. Median age is used because it shows how the age of a state's population is changing by looking at the mix of young and old, not just the number of old people.Also very polite, but in this case I think I'm correct. Or, more precisely, more correct than the NYT. You can find numbers that seem to corroborate the NYT here. It reports Maine and Vermont at the top of the median-age pile, with 40.2 and 40.1 years respectively; Florida is down at 39.1.
But at the head of that page (in not particularly fine print) is:
NOTE. Data are limited to the household population and exclude the population living in institutions, college dormitories, and other group quarters.If you look here instead, a table that doesn't contain that caveat, you'll find median age data more in line with, um, the reality of the entire population. This has Vermont with merely the fifth-highest median age, behind West Virginia, Florida, Maine, and Pennsylvania.
When I pointed this out to Ms. Murawski, she e-mailed back: "I think we'll have agree to disagree on median age." Uh, fine, I guesss. But the flat statement that Vermont is the "second-oldest state" is true only by tortured cherry-picking. I think the article's author was stretching to find stats that would support her case that Vermont's situation is unique and dire.
So: one cheer, one raspberry for the NYT. Considering my own mistake, we'll call it a draw. And considering the NYT's other current credibility problems, this one is pretty minor.