New data shows Milwaukee County aging, losing younger residents

Millennial population down by nearly 3,000 from 2015 to 2016

Milwaukee Riverfront Skyline

Milwaukee County lost more than 5,200 residents under the age of 35 last year, more than erasing gains made in the county’s baby boomer population, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Previous Census estimates showed the county and specifically Milwaukee giving back most of the population gains made in the first half of the decade. The 2014 population estimate showed the county adding 9,450 residents since the 2010 census. The entire metro area’s population growth is well behind other comparable areas in the country.

Milwaukee County’s population was down by an estimated 871 people from 2014 to 2015, and then declined another 4,866 residents in 2016. Other Census data showed the county’s population losses were concentrated in Milwaukee, Brown Deer, Cudahy, South Milwaukee, West Allis, Glendale and Whitefish Bay, while Oak Creek and Wauwatosa were among the fastest-growing cities in the state.

The latest Census Bureau estimates show the continuation of an aging trend in the county, as the median age has increased by one full year since the 2010 census.

In the early part of the decade, Milwaukee County saw its population increasing among those 50 to 69 years old and those 20 to 34 years old. In the past three years, however, the millennial age group has seen a downturn in its population growth, while the older baby boomer group has continued to grow.

Last year alone, the county’s 20 to 34 age group declined 2,960, a 1.3 percent drop. The decline was particularly concentrated among 20 to 24 year olds, a group that has declined in population by 13.1 percent since 2010 and 2.9 percent in the past year.

The baby boomer population, meanwhile, continued its upward trend, increasing by 1,237 or 0.6 percent. The 50 to 69 age group has increased by 10.6 percent in Milwaukee County since 2010.

Where the county’s younger population is going is less clear. The other seven southeastern Wisconsin counties added a combined 885 residents in the 20 to 34 age group. Only Waukesha and Ozaukee counties added more than 100 residents in the group, at 578 and 168, respectively.

As a state, Wisconsin saw a decline of 956 residents in the 20 to 34 age group, a 0.1 percent drop. Like Milwaukee County, the state saw that group’s population grow in the first half of the decade. It has leveled off over the past three years and is currently up 2.4 percent over 2010.

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Arthur Thomas
Arthur covers manufacturing for BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.