A GRAYING TEXAS
June 19, 2006
Texans are getting old fast, says William McKenzie of the Dallas Morning News. For example:
- In 2000, the median age of Texans was 32.3 years -- three years below the national average but four years above the state's average 20 years ago.
- Over the next 40 years, the largest population change will come in the number of Texans 65 and older; in 25 years, 16 percent to 20 percent of Texas' population will be 65 or older, up from about 10 percent in 2000.
- Of Texans older than 65 in 2000, 72.6 percent were Anglo and 16.7 percent Hispanic; by 2040, the only age group in which Anglos are likely to outpace Hispanics is the 65-and-over crowd.
But what does this mean, asks McKenzie:
- As the state's Anglo population ages, it increasingly will rely on a more Hispanic workforce to provide funds for services.
- The state's leaders need to act now so Texans can avoid serious strains at the end of their lives.
- Medicaid is the key because it funds two-thirds of Texas' nursing homes residents, including middle-class seniors; that's why Medicaid outlays have increased from 22 percent to 27 percent of the state's budget in 2006.
Unfortunately, the prep work begins with Medicaid, and given the rapid rise in health costs, how will it stay afloat, asks McKenzie?
Moreover, how can candidates reach young Hispanics who are driving Texas' growth, and what can be done to promote the state's community college systems? They can be the best place to retrain workers laid off in their 50s so they can rejoin the workforce; it won't be easy, but Texas can't afford to lose the combined talents of so much of its population, says McKenzie.
Source: William McKenzie, "As we enter new age, do numbers add up?" Dallas Morning News, June 13, 2006.
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