JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Missouri's median age is nearly two years older than it was a decade ago, with residents from middle age through retirement now accounting for a larger share of the state's population, according to figures released Wednesday night by the U.S. Census Bureau.
An aging baby boomer generation helped to push the median age from 36.1 in 2000 to 37.9 in 2010.
School-aged children between 5 and 14 years old now represent 13.1 percent of the state population, down 3 percent from 2000, while the population of people 65 and older has increased 10 percent in the past decade.
At the top, the number of people at least 85 years old increased 15 percent, though the oldest Missourians still measure less than 2 percent of all people living in the state.
The most recent population data from the Census Bureau showed that about 114,000 people living in the state were at least 85 years old compared to roughly 99,000 in 2000.
"In the past we would have expected quite a few of those folks to not be with us any longer, and a lot of those folks are still with us and have now moved up into that 85 and older age group," said Matt Hesser, the Missouri state demographer.
The largest population increase was among people 60 to 64 years old, a group that saw its population climb 46 percent, and in the 55 to 59 age bracket, which grew by about 40 percent. Missourians from 35 years old to 44 years old declined by roughly 16 percent. But the next oldest age bracket -- people age 45 to 54 -- grew by about 20 percent.
An aging state population influences the types of issues affecting residents. The Missouri AARP found in a recent study it conducted that health care issues were one of the top concerns facing older adults. Other important issues involved having enough money to retire and being able to remain in their homes for as long as possible.
Missouri's entire population grew by 7 percent in the decade to just under 6 million people, which lagged behind the nation's 9.7 percent growth rate. Within Missouri, the southwest corner expanded, along with several of the outer suburbs around St. Louis. However, the city of St. Louis and St. Louis County lost population.
Among the greatest ramifications of the population changes was that Missouri lost one of its nine congressional seats. That triggered significant political jockeying in the state Capitol as lawmakers worked to draw new U.S. House boundaries with eight seats instead of nine. It was resolved when the Republican-led Legislature voted to override the Democratic governor's veto of a new congressional map.
Besides shifts in the age of Missouri's population, the figures released Wednesday show that more of the state's population was living in rented property. In 2000, around 29 percent of occupied residences in Missouri were rented rather than owned, and that number climbed to 31 percent last year.
More than 12 percent of Missouri's residences were vacant last year -- or about 337,000. Nearly 93,000 of the vacant residences were available to be rented and a little more than 80,000 were for seasonal, recreational or occasional use.
Camden County near the Lake of the Ozarks had a 54 percent vacancy rate while less than 5 percent of the residence in St. Charles County were empty.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)