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2020: Vision for the Future
The population of Snohomish County is expected to change rapidly and dramatically within the next few years. It is predicted that not only will there be significant growth in the total number of people residing in the county, but also enormous increase in the percentage of the population that is elderly and ethnically diverse. Snohomish County 2020: Vision for the Future (PDF) is a response to these changes.
Changing Demographics Influencing the County
The Human Services Department has taken a leadership role in assisting all county departments to review their major policies, programs, and structures in light of the county’s increasingly older and more diverse population, particularly the aging of the baby boom generation. County departments convened to consider how our changing demographics will influence county government. They identified policy areas that will be affected, and defined the top priorities that each department will pursue in the next two to four years as we prepare for this demographic shift.
Nationally, there are 78 million baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) soon to join the ranks of our older citizens. In 2006, the first wave turned 60. With the aging of the baby boom generation, it is anticipated that by the year 2020 over 22% of the Snohomish County’s population will be 60 years of age or older. This is up from 12% in 2000.
Growth of Diverse Population
Snohomish County also ranks in the very top nationwide of non-white population growth. Between 1990 and 2000, the number of persons of color in Snohomish County increased by 168%. This trend is expected to continue. Also by 2020, 15% of the county’s population will be comprised of individuals who are limited or non-English speaking.
As our society becomes older and more racially and ethnically diverse, it becomes ever more important that we understand the particular strengths and needs of each group so that we can develop more thoughtful and targeted policies in the future. This is societal change; the impact of a large cohort of older people and a considerably diverse population will have significant effects on how Snohomish County does business.
Snohomish County 2020: Vision for the Future provides a substantial, practical guide for assuring that the goods and services provided by government will meet the needs of Snohomish County’s aging and increasingly diverse population. The goal of planning is to develop an elder and diversity friendly community. This vision of community:
- Develops age sensitive service infrastructures that support people as they age
- Establishes and adapts existing services to recognize and accommodate the needs of older adults and ethnic minorities
- Builds and adapts physical infrastructures that support people as they age
- Promotes creative ways for the county’s aging and diverse population to utilize their talents, skills, and experiences in both paid and non-paid roles
- Promotes flexibility in the workplace to accommodate and support the vital role played by family caregivers
- Promotes flexibility in the workplace to accommodate and support the vital role played by an increasingly diverse pool of workers
- Encourages people of all ages to prepare for retirement and old age
Change that enhances older adults’ quality of life will improve conditions for everyone because elder friendly communities are good places for people of all ages to live. Similarly, communities that enhance the lives of their ethnically diverse citizens become communities of choice for everyone.
Snohomish County 2020 sets out the blueprint for a response to the opportunities and challenges of population aging in the 21st century and the promotion of the concept of a community that is friendly for people of all ages, backgrounds, and walks of life.
View the County Executive Launches Planning Initiative (PDF) news release.