The number of young workers aged 22-34 nationwide is basically unchanged since 2007, while the number of jobs for boomers (55-64) — fueled by mega population growth — has climbed 9% over that time.
The stark contrast between millennials and baby boomers in the workforce is clearly portrayed in an accompanying interactive map from Tableau Software. Many of the the 175 most populous metros have seen a drawback in millennial jobs (losses represented by the huge number of red bubbles). Toggle to the baby boomer section of the map, however, and you’ll see a sea of green (representing job gains). Only six of the top 175 metros have fewer boomer jobs than in 2007, and the declines are small by comparison.
The map, which we’ve embedded below, shows more than job growth and loss by metro. It also shows the gains, losses, number, and total share of workers for millennials and boomers by major occupation group. A few trends stand out in the occupation-specific data:
- More young workers are snatching up restaurant jobs. Food prep and serving had the largest growth rate for millennials (18%) and the largest increase in the share of young workers (35% of food prep workers were millennials in 2013, up from 32% in 2007). Meanwhile, food prep and serving jobs shot up 20% among baby boomers, but 55- to 64-year-olds account for only 7% of the occupation group.
- Health care is a major growth area for baby boomers. The two occupation groups with the fastest growth from 2007 to 2013 among boomers was health care support (26%) and health care practitioners (22%). Boomers added the most total new jobs in office and administrative occupations (nearly 350,000, up 10%).
- Computer jobs grew 10 times faster for boomers than millennials. Nationally, computer and mathematical jobs increased 2% for young workers from 2007 to 2013, compared to 20% for boomers. (Keep in mind, millennials make up 32% of this field and boomers 11%).
- This key area of the STEM economy has decreased among millennials in the New York metro (-2%), Chicago (-2%), and Los Angeles (-6%), while it’s grown in tech centers such Austin (9%), San Francisco (12%), Baltimore (13%), Seattle (13%). The fastest millennial computer and math occupation growth has been in Charleston (40%) and San Luis Obispo (39%).
- Among boomers, computer and math jobs rose at least 35% in Denver, San Jose, Green Bay, Raleigh, Provo-Orem, Utah, and Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, Arkansas-Missouri.
Note: In addition to the embedded interactive map, Tableau created a table display that ranks the top 10 and bottom 10 metros by share and percentage growth for millennials and baby boomers. Click on the tab at the top of the visualization to switch between the map and table display.
Explaining the Trends
The decline of millennial jobs and upswing of baby boomers in the workforce can be explained, at least in part, by demographic and behavioral factors. The population of 55 and older Americans has grown 20% since 2007 — four times as fast as prime-working age millennials (ages 25-34). The same 55-and-over age group is the only to increase its labor force participation rate and employment-to-population ratio over that time.
Still, it’s a tough labor market for young people. Some are staying out of the labor force altogether to get more schooling or for other reasons.
For this analysis, we defined millennials as those aged 22 to 34. This is a fairly narrow definition, but since we focused on workforce trends (i.e., those currently holding jobs), we excluded millennials in their prime college-age years (18-22). Baby boomers, on the other hand, are 55- to 64-year-old workers — those on the cusp of pondering retirement.
Growth Rates By Metro
Millennial losses from 2007 to 2013 were most pronounced in Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton in western North Carolina (-13%) and North Port-Bradenton-Sarasota, Florida (-12%). In both MSAs, the losses for young workers were focused in production occupations and construction & extraction occupations. The Hickory metro area lost 32% of its millennials in production fields, a total of 2,400 jobs. And more than 40% of all millennial jobs in North Port-Bradenton-Sarasota have disappeared from both occupation groups.
Other Southern metros experienced big losses as well: Montgomery, Alabama (-9%); Ocala, Florida (-9%); Fort Smith, Arkansas (-8%); Wilmington, North Carolina (-7%); and Naples-Marco Island, Florida (-7%).
Not every part of the country has dropped millennial jobs, however. Most of Texas, parts of the Gulf Coast, Mountain West, and California, and much of the East Coast saw job gains among 22- to 34-year-olds. The fastest growth from 2007 to 2013 among the top 175 MSAs belonged to Kennewick-Pasco-Richland, Washington (12%), followed by Bakersfield, California (11%) and Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos, Texas (11%).
The top millennial growth rates are relatively paltry compared to the fastest-rising metros for boomer jobs. Lafayette, Louisiana, led the 175 largest metros with a 24% expansion of its 55- to 64-year-old workforce. It was tracked closely by Houston (23%), Austin (22%), and Grand Rapids-Wyoming (21%).
Austin and Kennewick-Pasco-Richland, with 20% job growth for boomers, appear in the top five for both generations.
Highest (and Lowest) Share of Millennials and Boomers
When we scan all of the nearly 370 metropolitan statistical areas — not just the largest 175 — Steubenville-Weirton, Ohio-West Virginia, pops up as having the largest share of baby boomers in its workforce, at 20% of all workers. Not too far behind are Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, Ohio-Pennsylvania (18%) and Pittsburgh (17.7%), two other Rust Belt metros with high concentrations of aging manufacturing workers.
The metros with the highest shares of boomers are predominantly in Pennsylvania and other Rust Belt states, in addition to Florida (especially North Port-Bradenton-Sarasota) and parts of the Northeast.
Youngstown doesn’t just have the highest share of boomers among the top 175 MSAs. It also has the lowest share of millennials, at 23%, along with Norwich-New London, Connecticut.
The same inverse relationship can be seen among the top metros for the percentage of millennial workers and the bottom metros for baby boomers. Provo-Orem, Ogden-Clearfield, and Salt Lake City have the three highest shares of young workers, led by Provo’s 37%, and three of the four lowest shares of baby boomers.
The above tables are from Tableau’s table display, which you can access in the embedded visualization.
For more on EMSI’s employment data — available at the county, MSA, and ZIP code level — or to see data for your region, email Josh Wright. Follow EMSI on Twitter (@DesktopEcon) or check us out on LinkedIn and Facebook.