Roughly 15 percent of the state’s population is age 60 and older. Further, workers age 55 and older make up 17 percent of the labor force. As the population “greys”, the economic importance of older Utahns will naturally become of greater importance. The Deseret News recently reported that in 2015 there were 337 people in Utah over the age of 100. In 50 years, there will be nearly 7,000.
As an example of the information available and the potential for insights, this post will focus on Grand County.
The visualization has six profile segmentations, each represented by a “tab” above the graphs that one can click on. The first tab is a statewide overview of Utahns age 60 and older. From this the reader can generalize that about half of older Utahns still receive taxable income (either passive or active) and/or retirement income. Around 5 percent qualify for some form of public assistance. The typical older Utahn owns his or her home, is married, and speaks English.
The second tab shows unemployment rates by county and age. Older working age Grand County residents experience lower unemployment than the state as a whole, although the relationship reverses when for the post 65 year old cohort.
Tab three shows that this rate is real rather than ephemeral; the labor participation rates up to age 62 are significantly higher than statewide. After age 62, the comparison reverses; older Grand County males are then less likely to participate in the labor force. This pattern seems to be consistent throughout Eastern Utah. Analysts believe that that the higher participation for workers under age 62 are out of necessity; private sector jobs that provide retirement plans are not as common in rural areas. The lower participation rates after age 62 could be a function of the availability of social security and the more physical nature of occupations in rural areas.
The fourth tab shows the older population sorted by poverty level which is $11,670 for an individual. Poverty is much more common in the county than it is statewide. The proportion of residents at the highest end of the scale (more than 400 percent of poverty or $46,680) is less in the county than statewide for older Utahns in the age 55 to 64 cohort but almost exactly the same for the retirement age cohorts. This is most likely a function of migration; urban retirees are drawn to the area and skew the profile toward the statewide statistics.
The fifth tab displays insurance coverage differentiated by educational attainment for older Utahns. Note that there is no display for persons without coverage; due to Medicare, that number is statistically zero for both Grand County and the state as a whole for persons over age 65. Give the inferred prevalence of urban retirees, it is not surprising that so many Grand County residents over age 65 are covered by private insurance. Private insurance coverage also correlates with education. Better educated workers have better noncash benefits and would therefore prefer their private plan over the public options.
The sixth and final tab shows disability rates for older Utahns. Disability rates for Grand County resident are generally the same as for older Utahns statewide. It is somewhat puzzling to observe that the county rates for the age 75 and older cohorts are similar to the state’s. Given, the absence of substantial medical infrastructure, one who assume that disabled county residents would leave the area and therefore depress the disability rate.