Workers Are Migrating And Seeking Opportunities
5 Aug 2019
By Ron Kresha, Golden Shovel's COO/CFO
The American workforce is on the move and communities should understand the effects of worker migration. Variance exists between studies on exactly what effects urban, suburban and rural communities can expect. One certainty is that communities must confront the changes of growing racial and ethnical diversity, increasing immigration and rising numbers of older adults. These demographic shifts are touching every community differently.
Geographic distribution of start-ups and worker increases are clustered within a few select regions of the US. According to the LinkedIn June Workforce Report, 15 regions account for 80% of high-growth startup employees—40 percent of which is centered in San Francisco and New York. This uneven distribution of opportunity affects the migratory patterns of workers. Communities seeking to improve their population base and increase their workforce should understand how to position themselves in competition with other areas.
Gen X and millennials combined far outpace the other workforce demographics and this demographic group differs from previous groups in significant ways. The Pew Research Center in their March 16, 2018 article, How Millennials today compare with their grandparents 50 years ago highlight seven areas of comparison.
Millennials tend to have higher levels of education with a greater share of the millennial women having a bachelor degree than their male counter parts. This group’s level of education positions them for the gigabyte economy and ensures they will be digitally dependent. Access to information is more critical to this group than previous groups.
Marriage and family raising occurs later for millennials. The prevailing reason is financial stability and their transient nature. The millennial population is steeped in college debt and very independent. In many cases millennials are not settling down because they can choose their independent lifestyle by not accumulating property. In order to be mobile and experience travel and have enough financial resources, millennials have chosen renting vs buying and don’t accumulate material items that will make travel cumbersome.
This group is much more likely to be racial or ethnic minorities. Immigration and lowering birth rates among Caucasians have led a highly diverse group. This diversity is a strength for the group. Millennial workers are comfortable with diverse coworkers and draw from varied backgrounds to generate new ideas and solve problems. The blending of diverse people and ideas will spur innovation and entrepreneurship.
Currently, millennials live in urban areas at a greater frequency than previous generations. However, current studies show a trend of people moving from the urban to the suburban area. As people move to the edges of urban areas they may see an opportunity to continue to move into rural areas. Communities who understand worker diversity and migration patterns will be able to attract a new workforce.
Since 2000, urban and suburban population changes have outpaced rural population growth. Urban has grown by 13%; suburban has grown by 16% and rural has grown by 3%. However, some of the suburban growth has come from a reclassification of rural areas that have been effected by urban development sprawl. But the problem remains, rural areas are lagging in growth. Coupled with a persistent workforce shortage, rural communities will need to alter their attraction strategies and understand how demographic changes can be leveraged for growth.