Bringing the Aging Skilled-Trade Trend into Focus

Our latest post for Forbes delves into the widespread aging of skilled-trade workers, an issue that’s more noticeable among occupations such as machinery maintenance workers — and in parts of the U.S. such as the Northeast and parts of the Rust Belt. This is a topic that impacts high school and postsecondary education leaders, workforce development professionals, companies looking for this kind of talent, and others.

Here’s an excerpt:

In 2012, 53 percent of skilled-trade workers in the U.S. were 45 years and older, according to EMSI, and 18.6 percent were between the ages of 55 and 64. (We are using the Virginia Manufacturers Association’s definition of skilled trades, which encompasses 21 particular occupations.)

Contrast those numbers with the overall labor force, where 44 percent of workers were at least 45 years old, and 15.5 percent of jobs were held by the 55-to-64 demographic.

Those are just the national figures; in Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey and New Hampshire, more than 60 percent of the skilled-trades labor force is 45 or older. Other Northeastern states such as Delaware, Maine and New York also have aging skilled-trades workforces, as do Illinois, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

The following table shows the share of 45-plus and 55-plus workers for each state. If the Northeast in general has older skilled-trade workers, Western and Great Plains states on the whole are in much better shape. South Dakota in particular has the lowest share of workers who are at least 55 years old, at 13.1%.

Note: This data comes from EMSI’s latest dataset (2013.1), via the U.S. Census Bureau’s Quarterly Workforce Indicators and American Community Survey. (While QWI provides workforce demographics for industries only, we use ACS and staffing patterns to derive occupational estimates).

State Name 2012 Skilled-Trade Jobs Share of Workers 45+ Share of Workers 55+ Median Hourly Earnings
Source: QCEW Employees, Non-QCEW Employees & Self-Employed – EMSI 2013.1 Class of Worker
Connecticut 38,494 63.7% 27.3% $21.47
Rhode Island 9,747 62.6% 25.8% $19.64
New Jersey 58,627 61.4% 27.2% $22.60
New Hampshire 14,945 60.1% 23.7% $19.84
Delaware 6,840 58.1% 22.2% $22.04
Illinois 150,340 57.9% 24.8% $21.80
Pennsylvania 145,388 57.7% 22.9% $19.98
Maine 13,067 57.3% 21.5% $20.58
New York 124,308 57.1% 21.6% $23.15
Ohio 165,297 57.0% 22.9% $18.72
Massachusetts 62,560 56.7% 21.8% $22.59
Vermont 6,839 55.8% 21.3% $18.29
North Carolina 80,848 55.4% 21.6% $18.05
Florida 100,724 55.1% 21.1% $18.40
Michigan 140,196 54.3% 19.4% $20.18
Wisconsin 90,884 53.7% 20.3% $19.52
California 245,208 53.2% 20.9% $21.85
Missouri 56,278 52.3% 19.5% $19.81
Tennessee 68,043 52.2% 20.3% $18.35
Indiana 109,742 52.2% 19.9% $18.97
Minnesota 64,953 52.1% 19.4% $21.43
South Carolina 51,120 51.9% 18.9% $18.90
Kansas 32,983 51.7% 21.1% $18.54
Virginia 68,087 51.7% 20.2% $20.72
Washington 55,253 51.4% 19.3% $24.52
Iowa 46,999 50.8% 20.5% $18.58
Arizona 38,910 50.6% 17.2% $20.19
Kentucky 51,398 50.3% 18.3% $19.14
Montana 6,928 50.1% 21.7% $20.47
Maryland 36,944 50.1% 19.2% $22.48
Alabama 57,842 50.0% 19.0% $18.34
Oregon 34,890 49.8% 20.2% $22.07
Georgia 74,042 49.7% 18.1% $18.48
Colorado 41,175 49.2% 17.9% $21.54
Mississippi 27,563 48.9% 19.3% $17.94
Texas 268,729 48.6% 19.3% $19.05
West Virginia 17,869 48.6% 19.8% $20.65
Arkansas 32,993 48.6% 18.0% $17.23
New Mexico 12,886 47.8% 17.4% $20.95
Louisiana 51,505 47.1% 17.8% $20.72
Nebraska 21,697 46.9% 17.1% $17.91
Nevada 14,359 46.9% 18.5% $24.90
Oklahoma 46,489 46.1% 17.1% $18.54
Hawaii 6,110 45.9% 18.1% $28.59
Idaho 12,946 45.5% 17.7% $19.24
Alaska 5,163 44.8% 15.3% $32.14
Wyoming 8,981 43.9% 17.2% $24.83
Utah 29,730 43.8% 15.7% $20.42
North Dakota 10,181 42.5% 15.1% $20.63
South Dakota 9,828 38.0% 13.1% $16.51
District of Columbia 4,071 35.9% 16.0% $29.96
NATIONAL TOTAL 2,930,994 52.9% 20.6% $20.25

Data for this post comes from Analyst, EMSI’s web-based labor market data and analysis tool. For more information, contact Josh Wright (jwright@economicmodeling.com)Follow us on Twitter @DesktopEcon.

Comments are closed.