Millennials Now Out Number Baby Boomers, Census Bureau Says

Jun 25, 2015
Originally published on July 7, 2015 3:43 pm
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

OK, maybe it's exaggerating to say millennials are taking over the world, even if it does feel that way sometimes. But there is this - according to the U.S. Census Bureau, millennials now outnumber this country's 75 million baby boomers. Now, there are many different ways to define a generation. The Census Bureau identifies millennials as people born 1982 and 2000, and they make up about a quarter of the country's population. They're also far more diverse than the rest of the population. NPR's Cheryl Corley has more.

CHERYL CORLEY, BYLINE: So let's say you grew up listening to this...

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "YEAH!")

USHER FT. LIL JON AND LUDACRIS: (Singing) OK, OK, Usher, Usher, Lil Jon. Yeah, yeah, yeah...

CORLEY: ...Or maybe it was this.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "EVERYBODY")

BACKSTREET BOYS: (Singing) Everybody, Backstreet's back, all right.

CORLEY: That music made up part of the soundtrack for millennials, those 15 to 33-year-olds now whose numbers total about 83 million. Not too surprising, they've bypassed baby boomers, says Dowell Myers, a professor of planning and demography at the University of Southern California.

DOWELL MYERS: But it still is a wakeup call to people to realize how the nation is changing.

CORLEY: And the millennials, says Myers, are vitally important to the country.

MYERS: The millennials are the new workers and the new taxpayers and the future homebuyers and the future parents and the future voters. They are the future.

CORLEY: And they are a much more diverse group than previous generations. About 44 percent are part of a racial minority or ethnic group. The District of Columbia and four states have majority minority populations.

MYERS: California passed this line of majority and minority in 1999.

CORLEY: The other three states are Hawaii, New Mexico and Texas. The country's Asian population saw the largest percentage increase over the last year. On the other end of the age spectrum, the census puts the nation's 65 and older population at 46 million, an increase of about 1.5 million over the previous year, as the baby boomers continue to move into that age range. Florida had the largest percentage of residents in that group while Alaska had the lowest. Five states saw the median age of their populations become younger - North Dakota, Hawaii, Montana, Wyoming and Iowa. Cheryl Corley, NPR News, Chicago. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.