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Census: Fayette getting grayer, numbers of households with kids drops

It has often been said that the only constant is change. And that is true of Fayette County as reflected by estimated U.S. Census figures for 2011.

Compared to 2000, the 2011 figures show Fayette with a population that is aging, with the number of households with children shrinking and one that is becoming much more diverse in terms of race and ethnicity.

Fayette County in 2011 had an estimated population of 107,784 compared to a population of 91,263 in 2000, according to census.gov.

The 2011 data showed 25 percent of Fayette residents under age 18, down from 29 percent in 2000.

Meantime, the 2011 data also showed 13.9 percent of residents are age 65 and over, up from 8.9 percent in 2000.

While on the surface those numbers might not seem significant, a look back at the 2000 census begins to show a different story. Here’s how.

Fayette County in 2000 had a population with a median age of 38.2 years. In 2011 the median age had increased to 43.3 years, an average age increase of more than five years in just over a decade.

Back in 2000, Fayette County households that included children totaled 43.1 percent but by 2010 that figure had dropped to 36.3 percent. That’s a telling decrease of numbers of children, including — most ominously for the Fayette County School System — school-age children. But there is more to the story.

Recession notwithstanding, there is a projection by the Atlanta Regional Commission from a couple of years ago that showed Fayette with the third fastest growing senior population in the 10-county metro Atlanta area. Combined with the aging population in general, the projection was that Fayette’s senior population is expected to increase by 450 percent by 2040.

Those aged 65 and older already account for 13.9 percent of the county’s population, so if the projection is anywhere near accurate it will mean a much larger senior population relative to other age groups in Fayette in the coming years.

That increase in Fayette’s aging population will likely have an impact on property tax revenue for the Fayette County School System. The reason is that at age 65 the homeowner is eligible for a 50 percent exemption on school taxes. Also at age 65 the homeowner or couple is eligible for a 100 percent school tax exemption if the Georgia taxable income is $15,000 or less.

That might not seem like much income, except that Social Security and up to $35,000 of retirement income per person plus regular deductions are not counted in the taxable income equation. The slope for school tax revenues continues to be downhill.

Another adjustment in Fayette County demographics is in terms of race and ethnicity.

A breakdown of census figures in those categories showed a population that was nearly 84 percent white in 2000. Eleven years later, the percentage of whites relative to all other races in Fayette had fallen to 67.2 percent white, a decrease in relative numbers of nearly 17 percent.

During the same period all other race and ethnic populations categories showed increases. The black population in 2000 was 11.5 percent, though by 2011 the black population had increased to 20.8 percent, a relative increase of more than 9 percent.

Similarly, the Hispanic population of 2.8 percent in 2000 more than doubled in relative terms to 6.5 in 2011 percent while the Asian population increased from 2.4 percent in 2000 to 4.1 percent in 2011.

Reflecting the increase in a population of 91,263 in 2000, Fayette in 2011 had a corresponding increase in the number of households, totaling 31,524 in 2000 and 38,167 in 2011.

The number of people per household shrank a bit over the 10-year period, with the average of 2.88 people per household in 2000 decreasing to 2.78 in 2011. Also of note was the percentage of households containing a husband-wife couple. Those figures totaled 71.5 percent in 2000 and 65.7 percent in 2010.

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Growing up at 110 Flamingo Street, I learned math many different ways, both in and out of school. When math was just numbers it was easy to understand.