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

by Dallas Fridley

November 22, 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 Wheeler County, older workers held a 38 percent share in 2016, well above Oregon’s 23 percent. The share of older workers in Wheeler County led all Oregon counties while Washington County’s 20 percent ranked lowest.

Workers Nearing Retirement by Industry

The 55 and over age group represented 38 percent or 108 of Wheeler County’s 284 workers. At the industry level, educational services may see the most retirements over the next decade. With 33 workers ages 55 and over in 2016, 46 percent were nearing retirement age. Educational services ranked as Wheeler County’s largest industry employer, with 71 workers in 2016.
Health care and social assistance led all industries with 47 percent of its 47 workers coming from the nearing retirement group. At the other end of the spectrum, only 26 percent of accommodation and food services 19 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, the U.S. labor force participation rate (LFPR) drops to 40 percent in 2016 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.
Wheeler County employed 284 workers in 2016 and adults in their prime working years represented 54 percent or 152 workers. Education services employed the greatest number of prime working age adults, with 38 in 2016. Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting employed 26 prime working age adults in 2016, with that group holding a 58 percent share. Retail trade employed 13 workers in their prime years, representing an industry low 36 percent.

Young Workers

Young workers represented just 9 percent of Wheeler County’s 284 workers, with 26 employed in 2016. Retail trade led all industries, employing nine workers ages 14 to 24 to produce a 25 percent or one out of four share. Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting employed seven young workers, followed by health care and social assistance, with four. Young workers didn’t hold any jobs in education services, public administration, or other services.

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