CENSUS: CURRY STATE'S SENIOR COUNTY

May 22, 2001 11:00 pm

By CHARLES KOCHER

With Harbor leading the way, Curry County topped the median age list in Oregon when the latest round of Census 2000 data was released Tuesday.

Curry County?s median age is pegged at 48.8 years, more than a dozen years above the Oregon average of 36.3 years and the U.S. figure of 35.3 years. Wheeler County came close at 48.1 years, but every other county fell at least four years short of Curry County?s average.

In other words, if a person were born on June 13, 1951, you were right in the middle of the Curry County population when the census was taken in April 2000 ? half of us were younger and half of us were older.

In the central part of Harbor, you had to have been born on Oct. 1, 1940, to be exactly in the middle ? age wise ? of your neighbors. Harbor is listed with a median age of 59.5 years in the 2000 Census.

What drives that number so high? By 10-year blocks, the largest age group in Harbor is between 65 and 74 ? 528 of central Harbor?s 2,622 residents.

By contrast, the largest block of residents in the city of Brookings are between 35 to 44 years of age ? 749 of the city?s 5,447 residents.

The age, race and housing characteristics for cities and counties were released this week as the federal government continues to publish data from the census. Compared to Oregon and the U.S. the data present Curry County, and Brookings-Harbor, as:

?Distinctly older.

?Much less ethnic.

?More likely to rent.

?More likely to live alone.

Since Brookings-Harbor has been touted as a retirement community, the age statistics may be surprising only in their contrast to the state and nation.

Some 26.6 percent of Curry County residents, 23.9 percent of Brookings residents and 40.9 percent of Harbor residents were 65 and over in the 2000 data.

In Oregon, the figure was only 12.8 percent, just higher than the national rate of 12.4 percent.

All the Curry County figures for over 65 are up from 10 years ago, and all at the ?expense? of the under 18 percentages.

The percentage of working age residents ? 18 to 64 ? remained roughly the same as 10 years ago.

The age data are reflected in the household statistics, showing Curry County and its cities with significantly smaller household sizes and a higher percentage of people living alone.

The shift in ?family? traditions also shows in the comparison of Curry County households to 10 years ago. The percentage of family households has dropped, as has the percentage of households headed by a married couple.

And despite Curry County?s rural nature, the percentage of family households is lower than the state and national figures.

The elderly nature of Curry County and Brookings-Harbor households shows up again in another way.

In the two communities, 1,595 households had residents 65 years and older, but only 857 had children under 18. In Harbor, 45 percent of households are married couples with no children, and 34.4 percent are single-person households.

While the Curry County figures on race remain overwhelmingly white, there is ? as in the state and national figures ? a growth in the Hispanic population of both the county and its cities. Still, American Indian and Alaska Native is the second largest race category in all the Curry County data.

The Census 2000 data are available on the World Wide Web at www.census.gov.