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Summer 2008
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Households Are Aging, Changing, Struggling, and Retiring

Esri's New 2008/2013 Data Shows the 2008 Demographic State of the U.S.


  • Demographic changes include age, income, housing, and diversity.
  • Geographic changes note new micropolitan areas and changes to ZIP Codes, DMAs, and CBSAs.
  • New data variables and current block weights are included in Esri's 2008 demographic data updates.

The trends and figures described in this article come from Esri's 2008/2013 newly released demographic data that contains comprehensive information about the demographic changes occurring in the United States today. Esri's demographic data is available as ad hoc databases in a variety of geographies and formats; as part of the data package in ArcGIS Business Analyst desktop software; in reports and maps from Business Analyst Online, Esri's on-demand analysis tool; with ArcGIS Business Analyst Server; and in the Esri Community Sourcebook products.

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This map illustrates how very few areas have avoided the impact of the falling housing market.

The 2008/2013 updates contain new data variables plus enhanced site analysis for users of Esri's ArcGIS Business Analyst products. New data includes current-year updates of educational attainment for the population aged 25 years and older and marital status for the population aged 15 years and older. New data also includes quarterly updates of population and households. Finally, for data users who prefer to define their own trade areas, Esri has developed a current database of the block weights used to retrieve information for user-defined polygons. Polygons are preferred to standard geography by data users who focus on select areas. To date, the options available to estimate site profiles have been limited to the latest census data for the blocks that comprise the site. Because the census data is now eight years old, it can limit the accuracy of estimates for rapidly changing areas. Esri has enhanced site analysis by updating the data that is critical to capturing current information for sites that are experiencing change.

What Is the Demographic Data State of the United States in 2008?

Changes in the U.S. population, diversity, income, housing, and economy based on 2008 demographic data trends will affect how agencies, companies, and organizations respond to current customer and constituent needs. This response must include the ability to provide the correct products or services in the best locations with appropriate messaging that will attract the most people. Understanding the current demographic picture will help organizations in this effort.


Demographic changes prove one irrefutable fact: We're all aging. The median age of the U.S. population is 36.8 years, an increase of more than 1.5 years since 2000. Baby boomers aged 62 now qualify for Social Security benefits (the first wave of the "Silver Tsunami," as the cohort of 78 million baby boomers is sometimes called) and are approaching retirement. For years, the baby boom has been likened to a "pig in a python" as it moves through its life cycle. From its impact on schools in the 1950s and 1960s to its stimulus to housing growth in the 1970s, it's difficult to discount the effect of this generation.


The "face" of the U.S. population is also changing—the U.S. Diversity Index is now 60, a 1 percent annual increase in the index since 2000, when the Diversity Index was 54.6. As expected, the most diverse states are California, New Mexico, and Texas. The Hispanic population in 2008 is 47.6 million, now more than 15 percent of the total U.S. population. It is a younger population—two-thirds of Hispanics are younger than 35 years of age—and is growing. With growth rates of 3.7 percent per year since 2000 and a projected total of 56.6 million by 2013, Hispanics' influence on American culture is increasing. Although they are smaller population groups, Asian and non-Hispanic multiracial populations are growing by rates of 3.5 percent and 3.1 percent, respectively. The non-Hispanic white population is declining proportionately by 0.5 percentage points per year.


Even though the overall population is becoming more diverse, population growth has slowed pervasively in most areas; in more than two-thirds of U.S. counties, it has slowed. However, some regions of the United States have increased in population. Suburbs around major metro areas continue to be the fastest-growing areas:

  • Flagler County, Florida
  • Kendall County, Illinois (Chicago metro area)
  • Rockwall County, Texas (Dallas-Fort Worth metro area)
  • Loudoun County, Virginia (Washington, D.C., metro area)
  • Pinal County, Arizona (Phoenix metro area)

The fastest-growing ZIP Codes are

  • 93106 (Santa Barbara, California)
  • 89084 (North Las Vegas, Nevada)
  • 06349 (Groton, Connecticut)
  • 89179 (Las Vegas, Nevada)
  • 89141 (Las Vegas, Nevada)


Population and prosperity continue to grow in Douglas County, Colorado, with median household income now reaching $115,000; households there have accrued a median net worth of $390,000. Hunterdon, Somerset, and Morris counties in New Jersey and Los Alamos County in New Mexico continue to have median household incomes higher than $100,000. Households in Nassau and Putnam counties, New York; Howard County, Maryland; and Santa Clara County, California, now have median household incomes of more than $100,000.

Median household income has maintained a 3.2 percent annual growth rate since 2000, but annual growth in average household income is slowing from 3.4 percent to 3.1 percent. In 2008, median household income is $54,800; average household income is $73,800. Median household income in metropolitan and micropolitan areas is approximately $18,000 higher than the median household income of $38,500 in nonmetropolitan areas. More than 95 percent of the U.S. aggregate personal income is earned in metropolitan areas.


"Doom and gloom" pervades the current housing market. Falling home prices, rising foreclosures, and increasing vacancy rates paint a bleak picture nearly everywhere; very few areas have avoided the impact of the falling market. Everyone knows that the housing market is in a downturn; foreclosures were up 112 percent for the first quarter of 2008, compared to the first quarter of 2007. The 2008 median home value is $183,000, down 4.8 percent from 2007. The 20072008 median home value declined in more than 73 percent of U.S. counties. Vacant units have increased by more than 7 percent; the total vacancy rate is now 10.5 percent. The rate of homeownership is declining.

Home value depreciation hit the hottest housing markets first, and the hardest. From 2000 through 2007, the top 20 housing markets experienced double-digit appreciation in home value, an average of 15 percent annually. From 2007 to 2008, home value changes in these markets dropped by an average of 23 percent. Average annual population change in these markets also fell, from an annual average of 2.9 percent in 20002007 to 1.4 percent from 2007 to 2008.

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*Home value rates dropped more than 10 percent in metropolitan, micropolitan, and nonmetropolitan areas of the United States. The years of measurement were 2000–2007 (to cover the housing "bubble") and 2007–2008 (to note the percentage of decline).

Even nonmetropolitan counties are showing the effects of the decline in the housing market. Comparing the average annual rate of change in home value through 2007 to the rate in 20072008, approximately half the counties experienced a drop of 10 percentage points or more—from an average increase of 7.6 percent to an average decrease of 9.3 percent.


The housing slump and credit crunch, coupled with rising food and fuel prices, are adversely affecting economic growth. Esri projects total employment to reach 142.2 million by July 2008. This figure represents a gain of only 582,000 jobs compared to an employment growth of 2.4 million last year. Although the sluggish pace of job creation affects all regions of the country, states in the South and Midwest are the most adversely impacted. The unemployment rate is increasing by 0.3 percent to 6.9 percent; the labor force lost nearly 600,000 jobs last year. The rate of labor force participation is declining due to retirement or discouraged workers who have stopped searching for employment.

Geography Changes

Identifying changes in areas where data is tabulated and reported is critical to trends analysis. In the past year, the Office of Management and Budget made minor changes to metropolitan areas, Nielsen Media Research revised boundaries for designated market areas (DMAs), and the U.S. Postal Service adjusted ZIP Codes.

DMAs represent the 20072008 markets as defined by Nielsen Media Research. Most DMAs correspond to whole counties; however, a few counties are split into different DMAs. Few DMA names were changed; nine counties were assigned to different DMAs. ZIP Codes were updated to reflect the U.S. Postal Service's November 2007 inventory.

More Information

For more information about Esri's demographic data, visit

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