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How, where, and why Montana became the grayest state in the West

old people working

Montana is on the forefront of that national trend, giving Montanans an opportunity to, as Center on Longevity Director Laura Carstensen wrote in the Washington Post, “redesign how we live.”

Montana is the oldest state west of the Mississippi, according to median age statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau. With half the state’s population 40 or older, we’re the ninth oldest in the nation, out-grayed only by Florida, Maine, and a few other eastern states.

And peak age is yet to come, according to demographic projections produced for the state Department of Commerce by consulting firm REMI. As of 2017, the baseline year used by those projections, 18% of Montanans were 65 or older, up from 14% in 2001. The figure is expected to climb to 22% by 2030 then plateau through 2040 as boomers reach the end of their lives.

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