Colorado’s Demographics: An Older, More Diverse State

Colorado’s demographics have far-reaching implications for our state’s economic growth. A key indicator in determining prosperity and need across the state, demographics help us understand demands for housing, transportation, schools, and other public services. Because Colorado’s demographics affect so much of how our state operates, it’s imperative to recognize how these elements play into the vision of economic opportunity.

In our Guide to Economic Mobility, we focus on three shifts in Colorado’s demographics:

  • Population growth
  • An aging population
  • A more diverse population

Between 2010 and 2015, Colorado’s population grew by about 400,000, almost all of whom settled along the Front Range. Another 460,000 people are expected in Colorado by 2020, most of them headed to the Front Range. But, outside of the Front Range, the population in 25 counties declined between 2010 and 2015. Since Colorado has several communities that are growing while others are declining, helping the latter prosper from statewide growth is important to promoting economic opportunities throughout the state.

Historically, Colorado has been a young state: In 2015, the median age in the state was 36.5. However, that’s changing, thanks largely to 1 out of every 4 Coloradans being a baby boomer. These Coloradans will age out of the workforce and start to drive the need for more support in areas like health care and long-term care. As this happens, we must find solutions to replace retiring workers and care for them as they age. This means a smaller share of resources will likely go toward other important needs in Colorado, like education, housing, or transportation.

Lastly, Colorado is becoming more diverse. The number and share of racial and ethnic minorities in Colorado are projected to increase over the next two decades, growing from 1.8 million in 2017 to 4.0 million in 2050. More specifically, minorities will comprise about 46 percent of Colorado’s population in 2050, up from 30 percent in 2015. Of those, Hispanics will make up the largest share of Colorado’s minority population — over one-third — by 2050. This is of note as minorities in Colorado currently face numerous barriers to economic mobility. For example, they have lower incomes, higher poverty rates, higher unemployment rates, less assets, lower educational attainment levels, more at-risk students, lower homeownership rates, and poorer health outcomes than the majority white population. To effectively address these challenges, Colorado must confront these disparities.

You can read the full Guide to Economic Mobility here.