Tri-Cities annual jobless rates, labor force participation by age group 2008 v. 2012

2008 - 2012 jobless rates by agePPThere were a couple of interesting charts I came up while noodling some background on the changing demographics of the Tri-Cities.

Since you can’t get the current unemployment rates by age group at our population level, I thought it would be interesting to do a 2008-to-2012 annual jobless rate comparison.

As expected, the rates were higher in 2012 than they were in 2008 with two exceptions.  The 20-24 years old workers saw their jobless rate decline a little. And the 75 years-old and older segment of the labor force saw their rate drop by a bunch.

That begs a question.

So I did another comparison chart. This time comparing the labor force participation rate by age group.

That sort of took the edge of the unemployment rate change for the 75-and-older workers. Their ranks did increase, but the number isn’t as impressive as the difference in their unemployment rate. However, it does underscore that the number of senior workers is increasing.

LF participate rate by agePPBut that comparison it brought up another issue.

The labor force participation rate is a big deal in how the labor force is doing, but something you need real numbers.

Enter the third chart.

It compares the population of Tri-Cities residents 16-year-old and older.

As expected, the number of area residents 45 and older was higher than it was in 2008.

The 16-to-24 years-old group saw a slight increase, but a significant number of the 24-44 year-olds that were in the 2008 count were missing in the 2012 count.

The number was a little better than 9,400.

Population by age 2008-12PPOne explanation that immediately comes to mind is something  ETSU Economist Dr. Steb Hipple pointed out in one of his labor market analysis last year.

The story goes like this:

In 2007 when the national labor market was bleeding jobs, the Tri-Cities situation was pretty good.

So, many young people and some not-so-young residents who lost their jobs elsewhere packed up and headed home to weather the storm by moving in with mom and dad or other relatives.

Many of them started looking for jobs here so there was a big bump in the local labor force.

Dr. Hipple predicted that situation would right itself when the jobs economy improved enough in other areas to attract those folks to seek greener pastures.

The number that showed up in the ACM surveys is close to the number he saw in the labor force numbers.

Back to the big picture.

The population 16 and older chart shows a population that is graying.  That’s happening nationwide and it affects some areas more than others. In an area like ours, where the median age is older than the state and national medians the effects are coming faster.

A back-of-the-envelope calculation for just the Kingsport-Bristol MSA portion of the Tri-Cities shows that about 10 people a day are crossing the 67-years-old threshold.  And if all the numbers remained constant from the 2012 ACS table used for the calculation that will continue for the next 17 years.  Obviously that’s not a hard number because there will be deaths, some people will leave the area and others will move here. Still, it puts some context to the aging demographic situation.

If all those folks who are getting older can keep their jobs we’ll see an older labor force.  That’s bad news from the younger folks looking for jobs unless job creation kicks into high gear.

However, many of the studies about how Baby Boomer have prepared for retirements shows many of them will hang onto those full-time jobs as long as they can.

 © Don Fenley




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