The percentage of people in Otsego County above the age of 65 has been rising for the past four decades and is expected to continue to increase through 2030, according to projections by a Cornell University demographics expert.
The percentage of people in the county who are children between ages five and 14 has also dropped markedly over the past 40 years — although the Cornell researcher is forecasting that group will level out at about the current percentage of 10.3 percent.
The projections, based on U.S. Census data going back to 1940, were issued by researcher Jan Vink, who said he arrived at his forecast by crunching the federal statistics and analyzing discernible trends.
His statistics-packed report for Otsego County predicts that by the year 2030 the number of people older than 65 will swell to 22 percent of the entire population.
That’s a hefty jump from 1970, when residents in that age group represented just 12.7 percent of the county’s entire population.
By 2010, the older segment of residents had climbed to 16.5 percent of the total county population. Vink said every indicator — particularly the fact that the Baby Boom Generation has begun to hit retirement age - points to the trend continuing for the next 17 years.
One likely consequence of the trend, he said, is that more people will be needed to care for those senior citizens who have medical needs or disabilities.
“This is certainly a trend we are seeing throughout upstate New York,” Vink said Friday when reached by telephone at the Ithaca campus.
Robert Harlem, founder of the pro-growth group Citizen Voices, said the Cornell report underscores the need for reinvigorated efforts to attract more jobs to the region.
He also said the fact that many younger adults are moving outside the region to advance their careers should be cause for grave concern.
“Right now, we don’t have the jobs to keep the people here,” said Harlem, who is also the president of Oneonta Block Co.