Sarah Garner (right) chats with Olive Rustin in February 2015 at Woodlands Senior Living Center in Brewer. Credit: Ashley L. Conti

Maine is moving toward a dubious milestone in 2020, when residents 65 or older are expected to outnumber the young.

That’s 15 years ahead of the national projected date of 2035 released by the U.S. Census Bureau on Tuesday. However, the nation as a whole is aging rapidly.

“The aging of baby boomers means that within just a couple decades, older people are projected to outnumber children for the first time in U.S. history,” Jonathan Vespa, a demographer with the U.S. Census Bureau, said in a statement. “By 2035, there will be 78 million people 65 years and older compared to 76.4 million under the age of 18.”

He said 2030 is the year all baby boomers, those born from roughly 1946 to 1964, will be older than 65. That means one in every five residents will be of retirement age.

During the 2030s, the U.S. population is expected to grow at a slower pace, age considerably and become more racially and ethnically diverse. Between 2020 and 2050, the number of deaths is projected to rise substantially as the population ages, leaving international migration as the main impetus for population growth.

Maine already is ahead of the curve in terms of aging. U.S. Census Bureau estimates showed that in 2014, more people died than were born in Maine. However, migration from other states was positive for the first year since 2011, resulting in a net population increase.

By 2020, Maine’s population is expected to drop to 1.33 million from 1.34 million in 2017, according to the University of Virginia’s Welden Cooper Center for Public Service. That center uses the same 2010 data on which the U.S. Census Bureau based its projections to break down state data. The U.S. Census Bureau did not break down its data by state.

In 2020, Maine is expected to have 297,755 residents aged 65 and older and 279,547 aged 19 and under, according to the Welden Cooper Center.

Some 22 percent of Maine’s population will be heading into retirement or retired, equal to the percentage in West Virginia. The two states will have the highest percentage of aged population that year.

By 2030, 28 percent of Maine’s population will be 65 or older, higher than any other state. The national number is estimated at 20 percent.

In 2010, 16 percent of Maine’s population, or 211,080 people, were 65 or older. Some 310,950 were 19 or younger.

Maine’s median age also is a chart-topper compared to other states, rising from 42.7 in 2010 to 46.1 in 2020, according to Welden Cooper. It continues to nudge up to 47.5 in 2030 and 48.3 in 2040.

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Lori Valigra

Lori Valigra, senior reporter for economy and business, holds an M.S. in journalism from Boston University. She was a Knight journalism fellow at M.I.T. and has extensive international reporting experience...