Population shifts: Business effect
New trends in population and income are changing America. There is an “explosion” of young adults. Yet some age groups are declining.
A wave of change is developing in America’s population, with far-reaching effects for the country. Age groups within the population are undergoing major shifts. All the while, earnings keep rising, creating a growing proportion of upper-income families. Taken together, such changes are setting in motion forces that will open up bright opportunities for many industries — and yet bring problems for others.
The most dramatic shift now under way is an “explosion” in the numbers of young adults. Postwar babies now are coming of age — moving into their 20s, going to work, getting married. People aged 20 to 29 will number more than 31 million by 1970 — a 4-million increase above present levels. These young adults will account for nearly two thirds of the total population gain in the next three years.
The chart on these pages shows what is happening to the “young adult” group. The bulge in this group will move in stages through the 1970s, providing much of the lift for what economists expect to be the “sizzling ’70s.”
The lift to business will come in two ways. Millions of young people will be joining the work force and becoming “producers.” Assuming there are enough jobs, as most economists expect, billions in new earning power — and spending power — will be added to the nation’s economy.
Today’s young adults spend freely, and they do not hesitate to borrow or buy on credit. They have no recollection of anything except good times.
Hopes for housing
It is the young-adult group in which marriage rates are high. As families are formed, the con-struction industry will get a major lift. Housing starts may climb to a 1.8- million annual rate by 1970, compared with the below-normal 1.2 million last year, when the credit squeeze knocked building into a slump. By 1975, say experts, housing starts could be running at the rate of 2.2 million a year.
Along with the demand for housing will go demand for all the household goods and gadgets that modern home-makers require.
Postwar babies grow up – effect on population in years ahead
A baby boom started right after World War II. Now, 20 years later, these postwar babies are to cause a sudden increase in the young-adult population. Later, as they grow older, the population bulge will move on to other age groups.
These changes in the makeup of population are of vital importance in business planning. Market patterns for goods and services of many kinds will shift in years ahead as the population bulge moves progressively from teen-age to young adult to middle age.
Now to 1970 – Big bulge in population: youngest adults, ages 20-24
1966: 14.0 million
1970: 17.3 million
Increase: 3.3 million, or 24 percent. That’s 40 percent of the expected total gain in US population during these years.
1970-75 – Big bulge in population: people in latter 20s, 25-29
1970: 13.9 million
1975: 17.4 million
Increase: 3.5 million, or 25 percent – one third of the total increase in US population.
1975-85 – Big bulge in population: people in younger middle age, 30-44
1975: 36.4 million
1985: 50.9 million
Increase: 145 million, or 40 percent – more than half of the total expected gain in US population.
Basic data: US Census Bureau