How much concern should the citizens of Florida have for the unprecedented change in store for the state’s age demographics? The chart below displays projected increase in youth and elderly populations by state, focusing on the top 10 states for youth population growth. Keep in mind these are increases, not totals.
Some of the smallest columns on the above charts should inspire the most fear. Nevada, for instance, has about 400,000 students in its public school system at the moment. Good luck with that. I’m sure the eyes of Floridians have already been drawn to what will appear to them as the most frightening column on the page – a 4.35 million increase in the elderly population. Notice that fellow mega-states California and Texas not only have smaller increases, but also start with much larger populations with which to attempt to wrestle with these problems.
Don’t get entirely distracted with the increase in the elderly population because it is only part of Florida’s challenge. As discussed in earlier posts, the percentage of the population that is working-age is set to shrink in all 50 states, and Florida has the problem in spades. This foretells a fierce, looming battle over scarce public dollars for health care and K-12.