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The Graying of Warren County

The Graying of Warren County August 16, 2023
Photo of Glens Falls, NY,

The population of Warren County is aging, an analysis by Warren County’s Department of Planning and Community shows.

“The percentage of Warren County’s population over the age of 65 more than doubled between 1970 and 2020,” the county’s GIS Administrator, Sara Frankenfeld, told a committee of county Supervisors on July 28.

In 1980, the median age in Warren County was 30.9. Today, it is 47.5. Of a population of 65,737 people, 15,255 are aged 65 and over. In 2000, when the county’s population was 63,303, the number of men and women 65 and over was 9,518.

According to Frankenfeld, the graying of the population is not unique to Warren County, or even to New York State.

“The percentage of the population in the U.S. aged 65 and over is increasing at the fastest rate in over a century,” Frankenfeld told the Supervisors.

“That is primarily due to the baby boomers of the post-World War II era who began turning 65 in 2011, a trend this is especially pronounced in rural America,” said Frankenfeld.

Nevertheless, when compared with other counties within the Adirondack Park, in New York State and in the nation, “we are really old,” said Frankenfeld.

The median age in Warren County is the second highest in the Adirondack Park, second in the Capital Region and fourth in the state.

The aging of the population can be seen at the municipal as well as the county level, Frankenfeld said.

“Half the people who live in Hague are over the age of 60,” said Frankenfeld.

The median age of men and women living Bolton, Chester, Johnsburg, Lake George, Lake Luzerne and Stony Creek is past 50.  Queensbury’s median age is 47.4.

At 39.6, the median age of Glens Falls is the lowest in Warren County, but it is still higher than the median age of New York State and the U.S.

According to Frankenfeld, data from the New York State Department of Education and the Lake Champlain-Lake George Regional Planning Board indicates that the aging of the population is at least partially responsible for declining enrollments in local schools.

“We now have more people over the age of 65 than we do kids,” said Frankenfeld.

In Hague, Horicon and Lake George, less than 15% of the population is school-aged.

The numbers of students enrolled in every school district in the county has declined since 2000, said Frankenfeld.

The consequences of an aging population are widespread, officials say.

“I cannot overstate how important this issue is. It drives everything we do,” said Jim Siplon, Warren County Economic Development Corporation president and CEO.

According to John Taflan, Warren County Administrator, an aging workforce limits the stock of available, affordable housing for young people.

“As people retire, they’re staying put,” Taflan told the Lake George Mirror.

It also limits the number of people available to provide essential services, volunteer for fire departments and rescue squads and sit on school boards, said Jim Siplon.

“For years now, we have been trying to figure out how to stay ahead of this trend and to build an economy that will be healthy both today and twenty years from now,”  Siplon told the Supervisors.

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