New data: Kentuckians are getting older, and more likely to rent than own
New data from the 2020 Census was released last week with detailed information about people’s age, sex, race, and the kind of households they live in. Researchers say the information is important to help lawmakers tailor effective policies.
Matt Ruther, director of the Kentucky State Data Center, is just one Kentucky researcher eagerly comparing the new numbers to past Census results. One of the first things he noticed was a quickly shrinking rate of home-ownership across the board, something he thinks may be a symptom of high home prices.
“The middle class - they don't have housing now, either,” Ruther said. “I mean, this is going to become very problematic if it's not already. Homeownership in this country is like the number one way to build wealth – particularly intergenerational wealth. So in that respect, it's it's concerning.”
Ruther also noticed a large disparity in home ownership among racial divides.
There is substantial variation in homeownership rates by race/ethnicity in #Kentucky. Homeowner rates for non-Latin white HHs are nearly double those for black and Latino HHs. The past decade saw rising homeowner rates for Latinos and Asians but declining rates for black HHs. pic.twitter.com/Z3JGeFo8Zl— Kentucky State Data Center (@UofLKSDC) May 25, 2023
The data shows that Kentucky – along with the rest of the country – is quickly getting older, too.
The share of Kentuckians who are older than 65 increased from about 13% of the state’s population in 2010 to about 17% in 2020. Ruther said that fact should inform future policies about healthcare, the workforce, and even immigration.
“This older population needs a lot of health care,” Ruther said. “There are parts of the state that don't have adequate health care already. I don't know if you've tried to schedule an appointment with a doctor recently, but you're not going to get it tomorrow, that's for sure.”
Ruther said, as most people might expect, it’s rural areas that are going to bear the brunt of the aging population.
“It's very spatially concentrated,” Ruther said. “I mean, Louisville? Relatively young. Lexington? Young. Northern Kentucky? Young. It's on the sides – the east and west – that the young population is just not really there.”