Annual report from the U.S. Census Bureau
Marion County’s population was 359,977 last year, a 1.8% increase from 2017 and 8.7% higher than the 2010 level.
This latest population figure, which registers the number of residents as of July 1, was released last week by the U.S. Census Bureau as part of its annual report on population, age and other data points.
“Our growth rate is very comparable to Jacksonville, Orlando and Tampa and extremely healthy on a national review,” said Kevin Sheilley, president and CEO of the Ocala/Marion County Chamber and Economic Partnership (CEP.) “The Ocala Metro ranked among the Top 50 metros in growth rate and we anticipate that rate staying fairly steady. As our community continues to add jobs and opportunity, we will continue to add people.”
The number of Marion residents ages 65 and older increased 2.8%, from 101,363 in 2017 to 104,178 in 2018, the Census Bureau reported.
Meanwhile, the number of Marion residents ages 25 to 44 increased 2.6%, from 72,700 to 74,601, and the number of residents younger than 18 grew by less than 1%.
In all, 28.9% of Marion County’s population is age 65 or older. It was 28.7% in 2017 and 25.8% in 2010. Meanwhile, 20.7% of the population is age 25-44, up from 20.6% in 2017 and 20.4% in 2010.
“The nation is aging — more than 4 out of every 5 counties were older in 2018 than in 2010. This aging is driven in large part by baby boomers crossing over the 65-year-old mark. Now, half of the U.S. population is over the age of 38.2,” said Luke Rogers, chief of the Population Estimates Branch at the Census Bureau, in a news release from the bureau.
The increase in the older population jibes with what Jennifer Martinez sees every day at Marion Senior Services, the private nonprofit where she is executive director. The agency provides well-known services such as Meals on Wheels and congregate dining, as well as some lesser known help such as subcontracted in-home care services like respite care.
“I’m really looking at 2030,” Martinez said when asked about the Census. “What are we going to do to make sure we are ready” as the number of older residents continues to swell?
For her part, Martinez is working with partners, crunching data and encouraging Marion’s older residents to be as proactive as possible with their health care planning.
Bartow McDonald, managing partner of SVN Florida, a commercial real estate firm, noted the rise in the number of young adults and millennials in Marion County. The unemployment rate is low (3.7% in May) and many business sectors are growing.
McDonald’s firm recently helped Fidelity Manufacturing buy the old Carlton Manufacturing plant in Ocala.
“They (Fidelity) needed room for expansion,” McDonald said. That kind of growth for a local company, he said, “is really exciting to me.”
According to the Census report, Marion County’s median age was 48.7 on July 1, 2018. Sumter County’s was 67.8 — highest in the nation among counties with at least 20,000 residents.
Ross, Jim. “Marion County Population Grew 1.8% Between 2017 and 2018.” Ocala Star Banner, 24 June 2019, https://www.ocala.com/news/20190624/marion-county-population-grew-18-between-2017-and-2018. Accessed 25 June 2019.