Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Age and Employment in Grand County

People work (and choose not to work) differently depending on where they live and how old they are. Obviously different people also prefer to live in different places. This can be because of employment opportunities, amenities, or even family ties. In like fashion, some industries attract a certain age demographic and are necessarily located in certain places.

The US Census Bureau tracks data like this and it allows economists to analyze the differences in age groups in different areas and industries.

The graph below shows employment by age in Utah and Grand County. The accommodation and food services sector was singled out due to Grand Country’s economic foundation; its economy is primarily tourist driven
It is obvious that the age make-up for the county and accommodation industry is different from Utah as a whole. The striking difference is in the 16-24 grouping (known as a cohort); the state has more workers in this cohort than the county but much less than the industry. It is likely that the difference between Utah and Grand County can be explained by the lack of four year universities in the area. In fact, it is quite typical for rural areas to be underrepresented in this cohort; young people tend to migrate to urban areas.

The 21 percent share for the accommodation sector in Grand County’s youngest age cohort is actually an under representation when compared to state-wide numbers; 37 percent of Utah’s accommodation sector workers are in the 16-24 years category. Other data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey suggests that the composition of this age group is markedly different from that of other rural counties. Roughly 7 percent of 18 through 24 year olds hold at least a bachelor’s degree. In contrast, the median level for the state (the measure that accounts for the rural nature of most counties) is only 3.6 percent. In fact, the level of educational attainment in this age group is on par with Utah’s “urban” counties that naturally attract educated young workers. A definitive explanation for this trend would require detailed survey work. However, the data suggests that Grand County benefits from the “river guide” effect. Young, educated workers come to the area for a post-bachelor degree association with mountain biking and white water rafting. Eventually, they migrate back to urban areas to start their professional lives.