South Sound increasingly looks like the rest of the nation.
In addition to a growing, ethnically diverse population, we’re also getting older, according to Thurston Regional Planning Council data.
The median age for the county in 2009 was 38.4 years, up from 36.5 in 2000, the data show. Of the 249,800 people living in the county last year, more than 60,000 were 55 or older, the second largest age demographic in the county after those 35 to 54. That age group totaled 74,315.
Hispanics made up a smaller minority in Thurston County than Asians as recently as 2000, but U.S. Census figures released last year show Latinos continue to arrive faster than other groups.
The county population is 6 percent Hispanic, up from 4.5 percent in 2000, according to the most recent data, reflecting 2008 estimates.
Thurston County has been booming in population for more than a decade, and all minority groups have been increasing their share of the total. The county has grown to 249,800 people, an increase of more than 18 percent since 2000, data show. Asians make up 4.4 percent of the population, blacks 2.4 percent, American Indians 1.5 percent and Pacific Islanders 1 percent, according to the agency. At 3.9 percent, the county also has one of the state’s highest proportions of people listing themselves as members of two or more races. The mix has created an expanding base of cultural institutions in everything from religion to restaurants, particularly in Lacey, Thurston County’s most diverse city. Statewide, kindergartens are about 18 percent Hispanic and nearby public schools in Chehalis and Centralia are about 10 percent Hispanic.
Meanwhile, U.S. census workers nationwide are ahead of schedule, conducting more than 35 million interviews and collecting information from 74.6 percent of the households that didn’t mail back their 2010 census forms. Census officials had set a goal of reaching 54 percent of households before June.
Census workers began making in-person visits May 1, collecting information from households that did not mail back their 2010 census forms and following up with households that submitted incomplete forms. Non-Response Follow-Up operations are scheduled to end July 10.
Census data determine boundaries for congressional districts.
In addition, more than $400 billion in federal funds are distributed nationally annually based on census data to pay for local programs and services, such as schools, highways, emergency services, hospitals and unemployment benefits.
The first European settlement in what is now Washington state was Fort Nunez Ganoa, established by Spain on the tip of the Olympic Peninsula in 1792. The state, Spain and the Makah Nation dedicated a memorial at the Neah Bay site in 2007.