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Are fewer people dying? Depends on who you ask...

12/08/2017

Companies have been designing marketing campaigns targeting baby boomers for years. Death care professionals were slower to act than some, but in my opinion, are now serving this generation better than ever. Poll results from Johnson Consulting Group reported in their latest review show that families are more satisfied than ever when holding some sort of funeral service.

According to the CDC National Vital Statistic Report on death rates in the US, more people die every year.

So if you work in cemeteries you should be seeing a huge uptick in services and revenue…right???? Not necessarily. 

If you just said..Nope, not at my cemetery…you’re not alone. So, if more people are dying annually and satisfaction numbers are up...then what happens to these services between the funeral home and the cemetery?

 

Let’s look a little closer….

 

Currently there are over 70 million baby boomers in the US and if you count immigrants in the same age category, there are millions more. By 2030 all of the baby boomers will all be age 65 or older. According to the article The Baby Boomer Cohort in the United States: 2012 to 2060 by Sandra L. Colby and Jennifer M. Ortman, “…negative growth is projected to continue at an increasing rate as the baby boom population reaches old age and mortality rates take their toll. Between 2011 and 2012, the growth rate was –0.6 percent. Between 2030 and 2031, it is projected to fall to –2.7 percent and decline further between 2059 and 2060 to –21.9 percent.”

 

The important number here is the negative growth (-0.6 %) of the baby boomer population. This is the effective death rate of the population.

 

The next important number is the percent of annual increase in the national cremation rate…between 1 and 2% annually.

The final number to look at is the percentage of people who choose cremation and immediately use a cemetery. CANA has recently put that number at about 33% of the individuals choosing cremation. The other 66% either has no plan to use a cemetery soon or is planning on scattering.

 

So here’s what these numbers mean: while the overall population is growing, baby boomers are dying at an offsetting rate, combine that with an annually increasing cremation rate and you get static traditional burial numbers and a decrease in the number of people using a cemetery for cremation. To take this one step further, it’s not the traditional burial we are losing at our cemeteries, it’s the cremation families who choose to scatter outside of a cemetery.

 

So, back to the original question…Are more people dying these days? Well, if you ask a funeral director they would probably say, yea…more people are dying! (….and I haven’t had a day off in a month and cremation is killing my business!!!) If you ask a cemeterian if more people are dying these days, they might say, no! (…and how am I going to increase sales when all anyone asks is do I own a crematory and what is the cheapest burial I can get?!)

 

By the way, the NFDA is projecting the US cremation rate will top 70% by 2030 leaving only 23% of the population choosing traditional burial.

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