Fact Check | New Census data on Kentucky’s changing population

New Census data on Kentucky’s changing population
Published: May. 31, 2023 at 3:33 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - New Census data gives us a snapshot of Kentucky’s changing population and how it compares to the rest of the nation.

The U.S. Census Bureau released the 2020 Census Demographic Profile and Demographic and Housing Characteristics File. These products provide the next round of data available from the 2020 Census, adding more detail to the population counts and basic demographic and housing statistics previously released for the purposes of congressional apportionment and legislative redistricting.

This release contains more detailed age groups, the first data available on sex from the 2020 Census, information on families and households, and more detail on housing.

Kentucky compared to other states

  • While the median age in the United States was 38.8 years old, Kentucky skewed a little older at the median age of 39.1.
  • While Kentucky’s population grew 3.8 percent since 2010, it had the 15th smallest population increase. Three states, including neighboring West Virginia and Illinois, had population decreases.
  • In 2020, there were just over 1 million children under age 18 in Kentucky which was 23% of the state’s population.

Nationwide, children made up 22.1% of the total population, down 1.4% from 74.2 million in 2010. The biggest decline was among the under-5 age group, whose share of the population dropped by 8.9% or 1.8 million. This finding is consistent with the decline in the total number of births and the birth rate for the United States since 2015.

  • With 17 percent of Kentuckians being 65 or older, the state ranked near the middle for its share of older residents. Maine, Florida, Vermont, West Virginia, and Montana had the greatest older populations while Colorado, Georgia, Texas, Alaska, and Utah had the lowest.

The share of the population age 65 and over nationwide more than doubled between 1940 and 2020, from less than 7% to nearly 17%.

Comparing Kentucky counties

When taking a deeper look at data for Kentucky’s 120 counties, we get a look at the differences in populations.

  • With 56.9% of its population being under the age of 35 years old, Christian County is home to Fort Campbell and the state’s largest young population. Next on the list are Rowan (52.6%), Warren (51.7%), Fayette (49.7%), and Madison (49.3%) counties which are each home to major universities.
  • Counties with the largest share of older populations – those 65 and over – all fall outside the state’s urbanized areas. Hickman County’s 25.2% of older residents topped the list. Rounding out the top 10 were Lyon, Cumberland, Trigg, Livingston, Marshall, Robertson, Caldwell, Owsley, and Carlisle counties.