Do you have a favorite government agency? We’re nerds, so we do — we are unabashed fans of the U.S. Census Bureau and all the fascinating data they produce about the changing face of America.
Lately, that face has been getting some new wrinkles. That is, we’re getting older. The median age of an American today is 38.9 years, the oldest we’ve ever been. Globally, that puts us on par with nations like Thailand, Georgia and China. We’re much younger than most of Europe, but much older than most of Africa and Asia.
There are a couple of factors behind the rising median age: People are living longer. The largest generation in the population today, the Baby Boomers, are getting into their retirement years. And their kids — the “echo boom” generation — are reaching middle age.
But the more troubling factor contributing to our agedness is what demographers call the baby bust. Fewer women of childbearing age are having kids, couples are deciding to start families later in life than preceding generations did, and as a consequence, those couples are having fewer children than we might have expected in previous years.
Kenneth Johnson, a demographer at the Carsey School of Business at the University of New Hampshire — our go-to source on a lot of population trends — has calculated that, if fertility rates from 2007 applied today, there would have been 9.6 million more births in the last 15 years than actually occurred.
Population trends can quickly become political challenges — especially as so many industries struggle to find the workforce they need to operate. We’re starting to see states offer incentives for teachers, cops, counselors and other professionals who are already in short supply. The baby bust hints that those types of incentives will become more important in attracting residents, and workers, decades down the line.
Here are six things you might have missed in the states this week:
ECONOMY: Unemployment rates set or matched record lows in 17 states in May, according to new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate is lowest in Nebraska, New Hampshire and South Dakota, at just 1.9%. Nevada has the nation’s highest unemployment rate, at 5.4%, followed by the District of Columbia, at 5.1%. (Pluribus News)
Oregon lawmakers have reached agreement on a new tax credit of up to $4 million annually for companies that manufacture semiconductors. (Oregon Capital Chronicle, Oregonian) States across the country are competing for $52 billion in federal funds aimed at the semiconductor industry.
HEALTH CARE: About 1.5 million people have been dropped from state Medicaid rolls in the last few months as states bring an end to pandemic-era expansions. More than two dozen states have started the process of removing people from Medicaid programs. Florida has dropped several hundred thousand people, more than any other state. (Associated Press)
ENVIRONMENT: The railroad industry is suing to block new California environmental rules that will ban the use of locomotives that are more than 23 years old beginning in 2030. The rules require railroad companies to set aside $1 billion a year to purchase zero-emission locomotives. The industry says zero-emission locomotives aren’t ready for use. (Associated Press)
ABORTION: The New York legislature has given final approval to a bill providing legal protections for doctors who prescribe and send abortion pills to patients in states where the medication is banned. New York is the fifth state — after Massachusetts, Colorado, Vermont and Washington — to approve a telemedicine abortion shield law. (New York Times)
Oregon’s House has given final approval to legislation protecting providers of abortion and gender-affirming care from prosecution or civil liability in other states. The bill was watered down amid a six-week walkout by Senate Republicans to remove provisions allowing minors to obtain an abortion without parental consent. (Oregonian)
The Maine House approved legislation allowing abortions any time before birth if deemed necessary by a medical provider. Current state law bans abortions after 24 weeks, unless the mother’s life is at risk. (Portland Press Herald, Associated Press)
LGBTQ RIGHTS: A U.S. District Court judge blocked an Arkansas law banning gender-affirming care for transgender minors. Attorney General Tim Griffin (R) promised to appeal. (Talk Business & Politics, Arkansas Democrat Gazette) A federal judge struck down Florida rules restricting Medicaid coverage for gender dysphoria treatments. The judge ruled the Florida ban violates federal Medicaid and equal protection laws and the Affordable Care Act’s prohibition on sex discrimination. (Orlando Sentinel)
The Ohio House approved legislation banning transgender girls from women’s sports and barring gender-affirming care for minors. (Columbus Dispatch) North Carolina’s state House gave final approval to legislation that will bar transgender girls from women’s school sports teams. Gov. Roy Cooper (D) is expected to veto the bill, but the measure passed with enough votes to override a veto. (NC Newsline, Associated Press)
POLITICS: A new poll from The Kitchens Group and Vantage Data House shows Attorney General Jeff Landry (R) leading the field to replace term-limited Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) with 31% of the vote. Former Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson (D) takes 21%, while three other Republicans and an independent took less than 6%. (New Orleans Times-Picayune)
The Alabama legislature could return as early as July for a special session to draw new congressional district map lines after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s ruling that the existing lines violate the Voting Rights Act. Attorney General Steve Marshall (R) has asked the lower court to allow the legislature to draw new lines. (AL.com)
Virginia Sens. Joe Morrissey (D), Lionell Spruill (D), George Barker (D), Chap Petersen (D) and Amanda Chase (R) all lost primary elections on Tuesday, setting up historic turnover in November’s elections. (Washington Post)
The five senators who lost their races equals the total number of Virginia senators who lost primary elections between 1999 and 2019, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.
Suspended Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) will face an impeachment trial beginning Sept. 5, the Texas Senate said Wednesday. Rules drafted by the Senate will allow Sen. Angela Paxton (R), Ken’s wife, to attend the trial but not to vote or participate in deliberations and closed sessions. (Texas Tribune)