Thanks to high birth and immigration rates over the last several decades, California has one of the nation's lowest proportions of over-65 residents - but it also has one of its higher elderly growth rates, a new Census Bureau report reveals.
With sharp decreases in birth and immigration rates in recent years and the aging of the huge baby boomer cohort, the report implies, California is poised for a big increase in its elder population, which is already the nation's largest.
The state Department of Finance's demographers have projected that California's over-65 population, 4.2 million in 2010, will rise to more than 6 million by 2020 and double to 8.4 million by 2030. And with the elder population growing much more rapidly than the state as a whole, it would rise from 11.4 percent of Californians in 2010 to nearly 19 percent in 2030.
At 11.4 percent in 2010, California's 65-plus population was tied with that of Washington, D.C., for sixth lowest. Alaska had the lowest proportion at 7.7 percent, followed by 9 percent in Utah, 10.3 percent in Texas, 10.7 percent in Georgia and 10.9 percent in Colorado.
However, the state had one of the nation's faster growing 65-plus populations between 2000 and 2010 in a bloc of mostly Western states recording growth rates in the 15 percent to 29.9 percent range.
Numerically, California's 4.2 million over-65 residents in 2000 was by far the nation's largest such population, followed by Florida's 3.3 million, but Florida had the highest proportion, 17.3 percent.
California also had the largest populations of 65-plus Latinos, 748,879; Asians, 561,229; and Native Americans, 26,804. Its over-65 population of African Americans, 224,133, was third highest behind New York and Florida
PHOTO: Eleanor Mitchell does some balance exercises during a fall prevention workshop at Kiwanis House in Sacramento on Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/Randall Benton.