The share of the population under age 35 has been on the decline for decades. In 1990, nearly 54 percent of the U.S. population was under 35. As of 2019, that figure had dropped to just 45 percent. After a slight increase in 2014, the U.S. fertility rate has dropped for five straight years, and the number of births fell to the lowest level since 1985. As the country's fertility rate declines and as Baby Boomers age, the proportion of older people is increasing. By 2030, one out of every five Americans will be of retirement age.
Chart1 The percentage of the population under 35 has been declining Due to a variety of factors, young adults of today have significantly lower homeownership rates. While just over one-third of householders under 35 own their own homes, 64 percent of all householders do. Rising home prices, low inventory, and more stringent mortgage requirements since the housing market crisis have made buying less feasible. Additionally, people under 35 are more likely to live in high-cost cities and have student loan debt, a combination that makes it challenging to save sufficient funds for a down payment. Given homeownership has long been considered one of the best ways to build wealth, how cities respond to the lack of affordable housing and where young people choose to settle down could have long-term impacts on the financial health of these younger generations.
Chart2 The homeownership rate is much lower for Americans under 35 While the population in the U.S. is becoming older on average, the population age distribution varies on a geographic basis. Some places are retiree havens, while others have large numbers of young families and kids. At the state level, Utah and Alaska have the highest percentages of their populations under age 35, at 55.1 and 50 percent, respectively. Maine and West Virginia have the oldest populations, with just 38.5 and 40.3 percent of their populations under age 35, respectively.
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Chart3 Utah and Alaska have the youngest populations in the country To find the youngest cities in the U.S., researchers at Porch analyzed the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The researchers ranked metro areas according to the proportion of the population under age 35. Researchers also calculated the total population under 35, the total population across all ages, the homeownership rate for households under 35, and the homeownership rate for all households.
To improve relevance, only metropolitan areas with at least 100,000 people were included in the analysis. Additionally, metro areas were grouped into the following cohorts based on population size: