Saturday, March 17, 2007

Virginia: Study Finds Rural Communities Short of Younger Workers

According to 2006 population estimates by age and gender developed by the Demographics and Workforce section of the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, younger Virginians (18-24) are concentrated in or near college or university towns and, after college graduation, in localities--typically cities--with the largest range of employment opportunities. Accordingly, workforce development strategies targeted to available human resources will be required to meet the needs of employers in rural areas.

Qian Cai, director of the Demographics and Workforce Section, who prepared the estimates, notes that "[w]hile small and rural communities may offer certain dimensions of a high quality of life, the absence of employment opportunities presents significant disadvantages to these communities in attracting younger workers.” At the other end of the workforce, the percentage of Virginians at pre-retirement age (55-64) continues to grow--now 11% of the current population, compared to less than 9% six years ago.
“Communities facing the largest retirement challenge already tend to have a higher proportion of elderly citizens,” says Cai, “because the younger population leaves in search of work, the older resident population ages in place, and many who left when young tend to move back for retirement.” In Mathews County, for example, 11 out of every 100 people aged 65-69 moved in from elsewhere (as compared to the state average of three out of 100).
Source: University of Virginia News Release (March 14, 2007)

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