Baby boomer population nearly doubles in 1990s

DENVER (AP) Baby boomers made up Colorado's fastest-growing age group in the 1990s, nearly doubling in size and outpacing the national growth rate, according to census data released Monday.

Many of them, from 45 years to 54 years old, were lured here by skiing or work in the last 30 years, said state demographer Jim Westkott.

''Colorado has a higher proportion of baby boomers than the rest of the country as a whole,'' he said.

''Migrants are typically 19 to 34, so when skiing became part of our national complex, and then when the energy boom took off, all those were regions that attracted population to the state,'' Westkott said. ''They were young adults, and they've been aging the last 20 to 25 years.

''It's the pig moving through the python. As they age, their age groups are affected.''

The Census Bureau figures showed 614,125 residents in that age group in 2000, up 82 percent from 1990. Nationally, that age group grew 49 percent.

In Colorado, the 35- to 54-year age group grew 49 percent from 1990 to make up 1.35 million of the state's 4.3 million people. It comprised 31.4 percent of the population, compared with 29.4 percent nationally, the data showed.

The Census Bureau also found the number of unmarried people living with same- or opposite-sex partners nearly doubled from 50,515 in 1990 to 91,224 last year. The group represents 5.5 percent of Colorado households, compared with 5.2 percent nationally.

There were 48,216 residents older than 85, up 46 percent from 1990, the data showed.

The increase was due in part to longer life spans and senior citizens who followed their baby boomer children or grandchildren to the state, Westkott said.

Walker Turner, 87, arrived in 1996 when he and his wife, Mary Lalla Turner, moved from Paducah, Ky., to be closer to two of their children, ages 53 and 61.

''Somebody told us we were getting older, so we thought we better get closer to some kids,'' she said.

The large number of baby boomers helped the median age rise from 32.5 to 34.3, compared with the national median of 35.3.

Morrison, in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, had the highest median age of 58.3. Almost half the population there is older than 65. That age group made up about 22 percent of residents in Baca and Sedgwick counties, compared with the 9.7 percent of the state overall.

Air Force Academy near Colorado Springs was the youngest enclave with a median age of 20.9. Excluding military outposts, Gunnison had the youngest median of 23.7.

The latest census numbers showed for the first time a breakdown of specific nationalities for racial and ethnic groups. Colorado had strong growth in the Hispanic population, led by those identifying themselves as Mexican.

Among Asians, the Asian Indian population more than doubled to 11,720 people, clustered overwhelmingly in larger metropolitan areas, the data showed.

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