Characteristics of Wasco County Workers: Young Workers, Prime Working Years, and Those Nearing Retirement

by Dallas Fridley

October 23, 2017

Rural Oregon counties tend to have a higher share of older workers. More than one out of four workers (27%) employed in a rural Oregon county has reached age 55. In Wasco County, older workers also held a 27 percent share in 2016, well above Oregon’s 23 percent. Among Oregon’s 36 counties, the share of older workers in Wasco County ranked near the middle of the pack, in 17th position tied with Josephine County; Wheeler County ranked 1st (38%) and Washington County ranked 36th (20%).
Workers Nearing Retirement by Industry

The 55 and over age group represented 27 percent or 2,834 of Wasco County’s 10,676 workers. At the industry level, healthcare and social assistance may see the most retirements over the next decade. With 539 workers ages 55 and over in 2016, one out of four are nearing retirement age. Healthcare and social assistance led all industries with 2,130 workers in 2016.

Agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting finished second, with 510 or 29 percent of its 1,766 workers nearing retirement over the next decade. Education service’s 39 percent share led all industries, while only 17 percent of accommodation and food services workers came from the ages 55 and over group.

Prime Working Years

Workers ages 25 to 54 are in their prime working years, with a labor force participation rate (U.S.) of about 81 percent in 2016. For workers ages 55 and over in 2016 the U.S. labor force participation rate (LFPR) drops to 40 percent or to about half the rate of workers in their prime working years. Workers age 20 to 24 produced a LFPR of 70.5 percent in 2016, while workers ages 16 to 19 experienced the lowest LFPR, at 35.2 percent.
Wasco County employed 10,676 workers in 2016 and adults in their prime working years represented 61 percent or 6,505. Healthcare and social assistance employed the greatest number of Wasco County’s prime working age adults, with 1,406 in 2016. Information employed 166 prime working age adults in 2016, with that group holding a 76 percent share. At the other end of the spectrum, retail trade employed 749 workers in their prime working years, representing 55 percent of its 1,353 jobs.

Young Workers

Young workers represented 13 percent of Wasco County’s 10,676 workers, with 1,340 employed in 2016. Accommodation and food services led all industries, employing 308 workers ages 14 to 24 to produce a one out of  four share. Retail trade employed 298 young workers, followed by agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting with 235. Just 2 percent of the workers employed by public administration came from the young workers group and only 3 percent of education services workers were ages 24 and under.

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