Census: Nation’s ‘millennials’ overtake baby boomers

The number of “millennials” has surpassed baby boomers in the United States, according to Census Bureau data released Thursday.

And for the first time, the data show there are more children of color than white children in the nation’s under-5 age group. The estimates examine national, state and county population changes between April 1, 2010, and July 1, 2014.

Michigan and Metro Detroit aren’t following those trends, but others continue. For example, baby boomers still outnumber millennials and the number of African-Americans moving into Macomb County continues to grow.

According to U.S. Census Bureau estimates, the number of Americans born between 1982 and 2000 — the generation known as millennials — stands at 83 million and they now represent more than a quarter of the country’s population.

Their ranks also exceed baby boomers, the 75.4 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964, according to the estimates.

“I don’t think it’s necessarily surprising, given the fact the number of people in the baby boomers generation is so huge,” said Charles Frontera, 27, of Roseville. “We’re the grandchildren and children of the baby boomers.”

Millennials also are more diverse than the generations born before them, with more than 44 percent belonging to a minority racial or ethnic group.

Also for the first time, census estimates show Americans of color younger than 5 years old have become the majority, with 50.2 percent being part of a minority race or ethnic group.

However, closer to home, the story is different. On average, Michigan is older and whiter than the nation as a whole.

Michigan’s millennial population ranks 32nd in the nation with 25.2 percent, according to Kurt Metzger, director emeritus of Data Driven Detroit, who reviewed the estimates. He said the national average is 25.9 percent. Washington, D.C., ranks first with 33.9 percent.

The state’s baby boomer population ranks 8th in the country, making up 25.5 percent of Michiganians, said Metzger, a demographer who is mayor of Pleasant Ridge. The national average is 23.7 percent, and Maine ranks first with 28.9 percent.

Frontera said the news that millennials lag boomers in Michigan isn’t surprising, either.

“I’m sure you’ve heard the term ‘brain drain,’ ” he said. “Michigan has a very serious problem with people in the18-35 age range moving out of the state for school and work. “

Frontera, a Wayne State graduate, said he stayed in Metro Detroit to be near family and because of his business, Clear Sight Optical on Dequindre near 11 Mile in Warren.

Census data show Michigan is bucking another national trend: in the state’s under-5 group, children of color are still the minority.

Children of color make up 34.4 percent of that age group in Michigan, Metzger said.

“You can see that Michigan is still some distance from persons of color being in the majority of births,” Metzger said.

Meanwhile, Macomb County saw the largest increase in the African-American population in Metro Detroit. The county’s number of black residents rose more than 5 percent from 2013 to 2014 going from 89,952 to 94,563.

Macomb County’s overall population rose 2.3 percent from 840,987 in April 2010 to 860,112 in July 2014, according to census estimates.

“People are coming to the county because of the quality of life, job opportunities and opportunities for upward mobility, socially and economically,” said Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel. “It’s not just us saying that — the numbers are showing that.”

Metzger said the trends in Michigan point to the state’s continued aging.

“An analysis of four groups — under 5, millennials, baby boomers and seniors — show Michigan is losing the age battle,” he said.

“We must increase our population (of people) in their 20s and early 30s to both strengthen the workforce and to increase births.”

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