Oregon's 2010 median age - the value at which half of Oregonians were younger and half were older - was 38.4 years. Its rise from 36.3 years in 2000 was the fourth successive 10-year increase, following three decades of decreases from 1940 to 1970, when the Baby Boom generation was much younger than it is today.
People in five of Oregon's six easternmost counties are generally older than elsewhere in the state, according to median age statistics from the 2010 Census. And Oregon is generally older than the United States, again using median age as a yardstick.
Across the country, the median age was 37.2 years in 2010. Oregon's median age was at least one full year older than the nation's in 1990, 2000, and 2010.
Baker County's median age reached 47.9 years in 2010 (Graph 2). This statistic rose in each of the past five decades. Not only that, the numerical advance from 2000 to 2010 (5.2 years) was the largest of any increase during that half century.
Using five-year age increments, Baker County's most populous age range in 2010 was 55 to 59 year olds, comprising 8.6 percent of all local residents. Compared with statewide data, Baker County's population contains a lower-than-average share of people in every five-year age bracket up to age 44 and a higher-than-average share of people in every five-year age bracket for 45 years and up.
Grant County's median age hit exactly 50.0 years in 2010 (Graph 3). Oregon and Eastern Oregon have been aging for a long time, but Grant is the only county in this Eastern Oregon region where the median age climbed in 2010, 2000, 1990, 1980, 1970, and 1960. Furthermore, the median age surge of 8.3 years from 2000 to 2010 was the heftiest shift - up or down - of any regional county in any decade over the past 60 years.
From 2000 to 2010, Grant County's total population shrank by 490 people. Yet the portion of the county's population that was 55 years of age and older actually grew by 829. However, the county lost 652 people under age 20 plus another 667 people in the 20-54 age group.
Harney County's median age leapt from 39.8 years in 2000 to 45.2 years in 2010 (Graph 4), its fifth consecutive decennial increase. It's difficult to pin down how much of the 2000 to 2010 change is from a mix of in-migration and out-migration versus how much is due to long-time county residents simply being 10 years older in 2010 than they were in 2000. However, we can say that, in 2000, a big chunk of Harney County residents were in the 35 to 54 age group and, in 2010, a similarly big chunk were in the 45-64 age group.
Although Harney County's 2010 median age of 45.2 years was well above Oregon's 38.4 years, Harney County did report a higher-than-average share of one youngish age cohort. The county's 15 to 19 year olds comprised 7.2 percent of the total population, an even greater share than noted statewide (6.7%). That's likely the result of counting juvenile offenders housed at the Eastern Oregon Youth Correctional Facility in Burns as part of the county's population. Indeed, among Harney County's 15 to 19 year olds, there were 64 more males than females. The youth correctional facility has a budgeted capacity of 50 beds, all of them for males.
Malheur County is Eastern Oregon's youthful county, with a 2010 median age more than two years less than the state's. That's about the same difference that existed in 2000. In fact, Malheur County was younger than Oregon in every census since at least 1950. A population-by-age profile of Malheur County would resemble Oregon's profile much more closely than any other county in this region.
The only rural Oregon county with a younger 2010 median age than Malheur's 36.2 years was Umatilla County, where the median age was 35.7 years. Four metropolitan-area counties (Benton, Marion, Multnomah, and Washington) also posted lower medians.
Despite its relative youth, Malheur County's median age registered its fourth straight decade-over-decade increase in 2010 (Graph 5). The county's population declined by 1 percent from 2000 to 2010, but its under-20 population fell by nearly 8 percent in that time span. That, of course, moved the age median, or midpoint, toward the upper ages.
Union County's 2010 median age was 40.0 years on the nose (Graph 6). The county's median age was marginally higher than Oregon's in 1950 and 1960 but lower than Oregon's in 1970, 1980, and 1990. In 2000, it again moved back above Oregon's and stayed there in 2010. In fact, the 2010 difference between Union County's median age and Oregon's median age was the widest of any census since before 1950.
Union County's population profile is somewhat unique because of all the college students who live in the La Grande area. The county has well-above-average shares of 15 to 19 year olds as well as 20 to 24 year olds among its populace. It also has a fairly normal number of younger children (by Oregon standards) relative to the total population. So why is Union County's median age more than a year greater than Oregon's? It's because the county has a noticeable deficit, if you want to call it that, of 25 to 39 year olds and a noticeable surplus, if that's the right word, of folks 55 and older.
Wallowa County's median age marched ever upward in 2010, reaching 50.5 years (Graph 7). That was Oregon's third-highest median age, behind only Curry County (53.5 years) and Wheeler County (53.0 years).
In what's known as the Wallowa Lake Census Designated Place (CDP), the 2010 median age was all the way up to 64.5 years. Wallowa Lake isn't an incorporated city, but, under Census Bureau definitions, a CDP is the statistical counterpart of an incorporated place used to provide data for settled concentrations of population that are identifiable by name. Wallowa Lake is the only CDP in Wallowa County, and it definitely has a high concentration of senior citizens living there.
More than 10 percent of Wallowa County's population was 55 to 59 years old in 2010, the highest share in that five-year increment of any county in the state. By comparison, only 7.1 percent of Oregon's population, and 6.4 percent of the country's population, was in their mid-to-late 50s in 2010.