By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN
CONCORD — Projections of the of state, county and municipal population at five-year intervals between 2010 and the state 2040 released by the New Hampshire Office of Energy Planning last week echo the trends of rapid aging and sluggish growth reported by the New Hampshire Center for Public policy Studies as "the silver tsunami" in 2011.
The projections were prepared in partnership with Robert Scardamalia of RLS Demographics and bear the caveat that projections are not predictions. The projections are based on current rates fertility, mortality and migration and is described as "a likely scenario" liable to many factors that could affect the future. The greater the length of the forecast, the greater the chance of error.
The population of the state is projected to grow from the 1,316,470 counted in the 2010 Census to 1,432,730, an increase of 116,260, or 8.8 percent. The number of births is projected to decline at each five-year interval until 2035-2040 from about 66,000 in 2010-2015 to about 65,000 in 2035-2040. Meanwhile, during the same period as the Baby Boom generation ages the number of deaths is projected to climb steeply from 56,500 to almost 96,000. Deaths are projected to outnumber births in all 10 counties.
The population aged 65 and older is projected to more than double, rising from 178,268 in 2010 to 408,522 in 2040, an increase of 129 percent, while during the same period the population aged 85 and older is projected to rise more than threefold, from 24,761 to 85,121, an increase of 243 percent. Those 65 and older, who represented 13.5 of the total population in 2010, are projected to to more than double their share of the population to 28.5 percent by 2040. At the same time, the numbers of those 15 and younger are projected to decline from 232,182 to 214,819 while their share of the total population shrinks from 17.6 to 15 percent.
Four counties — Rockingham, Hillsborough, Merrimack and Strafford — are projected to account for 100,965, or 87 percent, of the total increase of 116,260 in the state population. The population of Coos County is projected to shrink by 5,299, or 16 percent, and the population of Sullivan County is projected t grow by 814, or 1.8 percent.
Belknap County is projected to add 5,273 people by 2040, an increase of 8.7 percent on pace with the state average. Births in the county are projected to decline in each of the first four five intervals before rising by 60, from 2566 to 2626 in 2040. Deaths, on the other hand, are projected to rise throughout the period, climbing from 3,345 in 2010 to 5,339 in 2040. By contrast the net number of migrants coming to the county is projected to increase throughout the period, from 771 in 2010-2015 to 3,739 in 2035-2040.
The population of the city of Laconia is projected to grow by 650, from an estimated population of 16,193 in 2015 to 16,843 by 2040, an increase of 4 percent. Between 2015 and 2040, Alton is projected to grow from 5,264 to 5,5923, Barnstead from 4,604 to 5,210, Belmont from 7,294 to 7,886, Center Harbor from 1,078 to 1,159, Gilford from 7,137 to7,621, Gilmanton from 3,737 to 4,257, Meredith from 6,291 to 6,771, New Hampton from 2,212 to 2,478, Sanbornton from 2,976 to 3,329 and Tilton from 3,624 to 3,885.