Census data show slight shift in households with children in Routt
May 19, 2011
A smaller percentage of Routt County households contain married couples with children than a decade ago, according to new census data that sheds light on family demographics in towns, cities and counties across Colorado.
For Steamboat Springs and Routt County, many of the statistical changes are incremental and show shifts of less than 5 percent when compared with data from 2000. Overall, the lack of significant changes to household demographics — such as household size, marital status, presence of children, sex, age and more — could indicate a more stable community than other resort areas.
"Routt (County) is a little bit different from the Eagle, Pitkin and Summit areas in that it's a little more isolated and you get more of a full-time population, which might explain a little why it's a little more stable and you don't get as many changes," state demographer Elizabeth Garner said Thursday. "Every resort community is different."
But the census data also indicates subtle fluctuations in local residents' family lives after a decade that's seen economic turmoil, a real estate boom-bust cycle and seismic changes to job markets.
The number of households in Steamboat grew from 4,084 in 2000 to 5,201 in 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau data released this week.
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Although the percentage of those households that contained a family — meaning, a spouse or a child — grew from 51 percent in 2000 to more than 53 percent in 2010, the percentage of households that contain a family with children showed a slight decrease.
Steamboat contained 1,080 families with children in 2000, or 26.4 percent of the city's total households. In 2010, that percentage dipped to 24.3 percent, even though the actual number of families with children increased to 1,265.
"One of the things that we're seeing across the state, and we can see it in Routt, as well, is a decrease in share of the population of households with children," Garner said. "A lot of that has to do with the aging of the population."
The decrease in families with children, by percentage, is more pronounced across Routt County as a whole.
Of Routt County's 9,892 total households in 2010, 2,679 contained a family with children, or 27.1 percent. That's a 4 percent decrease from the 31.1 percent recorded in 2000, when 2,476 of the county's 7,953 total households contained families with children.
The Rocky Mountain Investigative News Network, a Colorado-based nonprofit news collaborative, used the newly released census data to provide comparisons of 2000 and 2010 household demographics to media outlets across the state.
"For the first time in recent history, fewer than half of Colorado's households are married couples," Burt Hubbard, of the I-News Network wrote Tuesday. "The percentage of married couple households fell from 51.8 percent (in 2000) to 49.2 percent (in 2010), while the percentage of people living alone increased to about 28 percent, from 26.3 percent in 2000."
The statewide marriage trend didn't hold up in Steamboat, where the percentage of households containing a married couple grew from 41.5 in 2000 to 43.2 in 2010.
Hayden, though, saw a decrease in its percentage of married couples during the past decade. More than 57 percent of the western Routt County town's households contained married couples in 2000, compared with less than 53 percent in 2010.
Marriage percentages also dropped in Oak Creek, where 43.7 percent of households contained married couples in 2000, compared with about 40 percent in 2010.
Routt County Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush, who has an extensive background in quantitative statistical analysis, noted that factors including small sample sizes could diminish the significance of some census statistics.
"But directionally, I think it's interesting," she said Thursday about countywide household data.
She described the county's overall trend of marginal changes to household demographics as a positive indicator.
"I think that's a really good sign for the stability of our community and the sustainability of our community," she said.
To reach Mike Lawrence, call 970-871-4233 or email mlawrence@SteamboatToday.com
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