Census trends: More ethnicity, more age


The influx in Hispanics and Asians, and the arrival of the Baby Boomer demographic at the portals or retirement are the two driving forces affecting the US population, according to a report analyzing Census data from the Brookings Institute.

The report is called “State of Metropolitan America,” and was co-written and summarized by William Frey. Here are his five major points:

* 1. Overall population growth slowed during the last decade, coming home at 9.7%. The high water mark was the 1950s, at 18.5%, and the 1990s featured a 13.2% growth rate.

* 2. Mobility has decreased: Back in the 1950s, Americans were on the move. On an annual basis, about 20% pulled up stakes and moved to a new home. Now, with a poor housing market and scarce financing, only about 11.6% make a domicile move. The concern here is that some are forced to remain in markets where jobs are scarce, and on the flip side, it damages metros that have traditionally relied on attracting new residents as an economic growth strategy.

* 3. Minorities are increasing. In 1990 71% of the population was white, a number that has been reduced to 57%. 92% of recent growth has come from the Hispanic and Asian demographics, and 50% of infants under age one are minorities.

* 4. Boomers are flooding older demographics, which is no surprise to anybody who has paid even a remote amount of attention. On the flip side, only 20% of US households consist of a married couple with children under age 18, half the percentage that existed in 1970.

* 5. Median income declined for the first time last decade, coming in at -8.9% after decades of growth. It rose 8.4% in the 70s, 8.8% in the 80s, and 7.1% in the 90s before falling off the cliff in the new millennium. Those under the poverty level now stand at 15.3% — the authors of the report say it is important to bring the income of the mainstream back into the black to enjoy any meaningful economic recovery.

RBR-TVBR observation: The slowing in growth of population by itself shouldn’t worry broadcasters too much, since as a mature medium it will not likely ever deal with a sudden onslaught of new stations. However, there are many other considerations that must figure into future calculations.

Two major takeaways on the programming front: Ethnic and 55+ demographics should be in vogue in a way that they have never been before – something to seriously consider when planning ways to attract a loyal audience.