Where Will Workers Come From?

Oct 4, 2016 | Uncategorized

Workforce, talent, labor, employees, team members, members. Whatever label companies use to describe the people that work for them, most area employers are having some challenges hiring qualified people. And it’s going to get more challenging.

The Chamber has teamed up with other organizations in the Fort Collins-Loveland area to develop the first-ever talent development plan. Partners include the Loveland Chamber of Commerce, the City of Loveland, United Way of Larimer County, the City of Fort Collins, Larimer County Economic Development and the Larimer County Workforce Center, the Northern Colorado Economic Alliance and the Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce.

This partnership engaged the services of TIP Strategies, an Austin-based business and economic development consulting firm. TIP specializes in strategic planning, site selection, economic impact analysis.

The plan will be done later this year but during the process data have surfaced that illuminates the problem before us.

The most obvious trend is the aging of the Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) out of the workforce. The Congressional Budget Office predicts that Boomer retirements will drive the national labor participation rate down over the next 15 years from 62.5 percent to below 60 percent by 2030. (Labor participation rate, per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, is the ‘share of the population 16 years and older working or seeking work.’)

The research by TIP brings that close to home. They list occupations where 25 percent or more of workers are 55 and older. A few examples: heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers, 28%; registered nurses, 27%; maintenance and repair workers, 27%; property and real estate managers, 40%; bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerks, 32%; elementary special education teachers, 28%.

The Fort Collins-Loveland MSA (i.e. Larimer County) faces a projected worker shortfall of at least 5,000 people between 2016 to 2020 and maybe as high as 9,000.

The number of openings from 2016 – 2020 is a conservative 28,000. TIP reported to me that “Openings include new jobs and replacement jobs (turnover and retirements). About 10,500 of the openings are new jobs, but some portion of the remaining 17,500 replacement jobs will be retirements and people leaving the workforce for other reasons. Based on demographics (5 percent of workers are currently over 65 / 16 percent are over 55), TIP believes that 30 to 50 percent of the replacement jobs are due to people leaving the workforce. So this leaves a need to fill 15,000 to 19,000 openings – the other openings would be filled by general labor market churn.

The change in labor force is the other piece. Over the past 5 years, the labor force has annually added 2,000 to 3,000 workers and population projections show that this trend is likely to continue. If you take the mid-point of this (2,500), then you can assume 10,000 new workers between 2016 and 2020.

So the gap would be 5,000 to 9,000 conservatively.”

The above-mentioned planning and subsequent work take on a new urgency in light of these numbers.

It you want to review a presentation make by TIP Strategies on our behalf last Friday at the Larimer County Workforce Symposium, you can find it HERE.