Thursday, May 26, 2011

North Carolina: Annual Workforce Report Looks at Recession Impact and Takes Note of Aging Workforce

North Carolina has issued a report on its workforce showing that the recession accelerated the state's shift from a traditional, manufacturing-based economy to a knowledge-based economy. Among other things, the report notes that while the recession slowed baby-boomer retirements, the impact is likely to be felt first and greatest in small cities and rural areas where more workers are near-retirement age.

According to "The State of the N.C. Workforce 2011-2020," while North Carolina’s age distribution is similar to that of the United States as a whole, the state’s micropolitan and rural areas have a higher proportion of older adults than their metropolitan peers, with the prime working age (ages 20 to 54) cohort in rural counties comprises almost a 5.5% smaller share of the total population than in metropolitan counties. In addition, across the state, retirees (over age 65) comprise 12.8% of the total population, but in rural counties that share jumps to 16.8%, and the proportion of pre-retirees (55-64) is also higher in rural areas.

In looking at particular industries, the report notes that one of the biggest challenges the state’s energy firms face is a rapidly aging workforce. "For instance, Duke Energy indicates that more than half of its 17,000 employees in the greater Charlotte area are eligible to retire in the next decade."

Among the reports recommendations is that North Carolina encourage "employers and communities to adapt to the potential impact of large-scale retirements by helping older workers remain in the workforce, continue learning, and mentor other workers while also helping companies develop appropriate success plans, especially for key
occupations."

Sources: North Carolina Commission on Workforce Development "2011 State of the N.C. Workforce Report"; Charlotte Business Journal "N.C. workers need to adapt to work-force challenges" (May 25, 2011)

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