Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Nearly One in Four Workers in Oregon is 55 or Older

Oregon’s workforce is aging. The number of Oregon jobs held by workers age 55 and over tripled from 1992 to 2015, while the total number of jobs grew by just 42 percent. Workers 55 and over held just 10 percent of the jobs in 1992, increasing their share to 23 percent of all jobs by 2015. Driving this trend is the fact that much of the Baby Boom Generation is now 55 and over, and they are more likely to be in the labor force than previous generations were at this age. Many of these workers are probably planning to retire in the next 10 years, taking their skills and experience with them.

Although the aging workforce is a general demographic trend, it impacts employers, industries, or regions to varying degrees. Employers should know the age profile of their own workforce so they can plan accordingly for increased turnover from retirees. At a broader level, workforce planners need to know the demographic profiles of entire industries and regions to help gauge the need for future replacement workers.

Rural Counties Have Older Workforces

Rural county workforces tend to have a higher share of older workers and will feel the impact of the aging workforce more than metro counties. In counties outside metropolitan areas, more than one out of four (27%) workers are 55 years or older. That represents more than 61,000 workers in rural Oregon who are probably hoping to retire within the next decade.

Although older workers are a smaller share of the workforce in metro counties, there are a lot more of them. Multnomah County alone has more workers over the age of 55 (104,000 workers) than all of rural Oregon combined (61,000). However, Multnomah County has nearly as many workers in the next youngest age group (100,000 workers ages 45 to 54), while rural Oregon has far fewer workers in the next youngest age group (49,000 workers ages 45 to 54). In general, metro counties will have an easier time filling vacancies left by retiring workers from their local workforce. Rural counties will need to recruit workers from other areas to sustain the size of their current workforces.

To learn about industries that have an older workforce, read "Oregon’s Aging Workforce by Industry and County, 2015", written by State Employment Economist Nick Beleiciks.

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