PA Could Lose 5% of Workforce in Next 15 Years

A new report predicts a shrinking workforce.



In the next 15 years, Pennsylvania could lose a serious portion of its workforce.

Pennsylvania — and 20 other states — will experience shrinking workforces between now and 2030, according to a recent Bloomberg article citing a Conference Board study.

In Pennsylvania, there are currently 6 million people employed but that number will fall 5.5 percent over the next 15 years, according to the report. That’s mainly because Baby Boomers are retiring, leaving fewer working-age adults to fill vacated jobs.

New Jersey, however, is predicted to increase its workforce by .017 percent, according to the report. The Garden State currently has close to 4.3 million people employed.

“The Northeast and Midwest regions, which are home to about 39 percent of working-age Americans, probably will see a 3 percent decline in that population through 2030, the authors estimate,” the Bloomberg article said. The full Conference Board report states that by 2020, the country’s working-age population (18-64) will remain about the same.

The BLS data reported that workforces increased in Pennsylvania and New Jersey from May 2014 to May 2015. In the last year, 66,800 Pennsylvanians have found work and 46,100 New Jersey residents have also acquired jobs.

For Pennsylvania, two industries — leisure and hospitality, and construction — experienced the most growth, while mining and logging (-1.9%) and government employment (-0.9%) had negative change, according to the BLS state economy figures. For New Jersey, most new workers got jobs in construction (7.8%), but mining and logging (-6.7%) experienced a significant downturn. Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate stood at 5.4 percent in May 2015.

The Conference Board report also details which of the country’s industries can expect to be most affected by the predicted labor shortage. Logging and printing should see declines, but occupational therapy and personal care could see significant growth, which could reflect the trend in Baby Boomer retirements: “As a result of the aging population in the United States, it is not surprising that some of the fastest-growing occupations are related to health care,” the report said. Meanwhile, the skilled labor jobs (rail, water, transportation, etc.) have a significant risk of facing a labor shortage.

Five States With Most Workforce Growth 2015-2030 (according to the Conference Board study):

  1. Nevada (25.5 percent)
  2. Utah (23.86 percent)
  3. Arizona (23.85 percent)
  4. Texas (20.48 percent)
  5. Florida (17.23 percent)

Five States With Most Workforce Losses 2015-2030:

  1. Vermont (-11.54 percent)
  2. West Virginia (-9.47 percent)
  3. Maine (-9.46 percent)
  4. Michigan (-6.67 percent)
  5. Ohio (-5.81 percent)