Friday, September 22, 2017

Rural Areas Have Older Workforces

During the recent recession, falling home values and decimated nest eggs forced many older workers to delay their retirement plans for a few years. Now the oldest of the baby boomers are reaching full retirement age and leaving the workforce. Their retirements could leave holes in the workforces of some industries, occupations, and counties. Effectively replacing the coming wave of retirees is one of the key workforce challenges facing Oregon.

The workforces of rural counties tend to have a high share of older workers. In counties outside metropolitan areas, more than one out of four (27%) workers has reached age 55. That represents nearly 63,000 workers in rural Oregon who are probably hoping to retire sometime this decade. The question is: will there be enough workers in rural areas to replace them?

The extreme examples are Wheeler and Gilliam counties, where more than one-third of workers are 55 or older. Wheeler County has about 281 payroll workers at private businesses or working for state and local governments in the county, and about 107 (or 38%) are in the 55 and over age group. It may be a challenge to keep the same level of economic activity going in Wheeler County unless new workers can be attracted into the area.

Although older workers are a smaller share of the workforce (23%) in more urban areas, there are a lot more of them. Multnomah County alone has more workers over the age of 55 (104,000) than the total 63,000 in all of rural Oregon combined. No area of the state will avoid the effects of retiring boomers.

Read the full article "Aging Workforce and Looming Retirements" written by economists Nick Beleiciks and Gail Krumenauer

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