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Washington state population tops 8 million and it's not getting any younger

caption: Crowds of people make their way through Pike Place Market on Wednesday, August 11, 2021, in Seattle.
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Crowds of people make their way through Pike Place Market on Wednesday, August 11, 2021, in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

The state of Washington has reached 8 million people, and it's growing twice as fast as the national average.

Each November, the Office of Financial Management shares the most up-to-date forecast for the state's population. The latest report shows Washington grew about 14.6%, which is about twice the national average. Most of that growth has been in the Puget Sound region.

What's more, the population is getting older.

That trend is expected to continue, according to state demographer Mike Mohrman. He said, based on the current growth forecast, "by 2050 our 85-and-over population will quadruple."

The forecast also projects the 65-and-over population to increase in the coming years, as the baby boomer generation ages.

As the population gets older, the type of services that the government has provided in the past may not be what is in demand in the future, Mohrman said.

RELATED: Aging Boomers can't find caregivers in rural WA. Who can fill the gap?

In terms of the increased population in general, Mohrman said it was difficult to pinpoint exactly where new Washingtonians were coming from.

"[There's] no registry of people coming in through the border, but we get indicated data through a variety of sources, none of which are perfect," he said.

School enrollment, driver's licenses, and even voter registrations can hint at trends when it comes to new arrivals, "but it's a little bit more difficult to disentangle some of the administrative records," Mohrman said.

But there are some likely suspects, mostly people moving to Washington from neighboring states. Mohrman said data from state drivers licenses shows Washington attracts new residents from California, Oregon, Idaho, Arizona, and Texas.

Mohrman also said that, barring any unprecedented events, the growth we are seeing should slow down.

"Forecasts and projections get adjusted, and change over time," he said.

Washington is not expected to hit the 9 million mark until 2038.

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