A new Labor Day report shows the percentage of people in Michigan’s workforce has actually been shrinking over the years.
326,000, that’s how many people Michigan’s workforce has lost in the last 17 years according to a new study by the Michigan League for Public Policy.
“We haven’t lost workers because of a shrinking population or anything like that, our Labor Force Participation Rate is much lower than it used to be,” says Peter Ruark, Senior Policy Analyst at the Michigan League for Public Policy.
Ruark says, the amount of people working or looking for work in Michigan is sitting at a historic low.
Between the year 2000 and 2011, the amount of people in our workforce fell 9%.
And as of last year, it has only gone up 1% since then.
“Our workforce is changing, it’s graying we might want to say,” says Ruark.
Ruark says, not only has Michigan’s labor force shrunk over time, it’s composition has begun to shift toward older workers as well.
“A little over 1/5th of Michigan’s labor force is 55-years old and older, in 2000 only 11% were 55-years old and older,” says Ruark.
Ruark says there could be a number of different factors behind this including social security and pension changes, less physically demanding jobs, and the decline of retiree health insurance.
But that’s not the only change, Ruark says the most significant difference comes from younger workers.
“A lot of younger people who are not in the workforce, they’re not gaining the experience they need in order to make decent salaries they need later in life,” says Ruark.
In 2000, Ruark’s research shows 72% of residents ages 16-24 were either working or looking for work.
And he says that percentage has taken a sharp plunge.
We’re currently sitting at 63%.
“We want to do anything we can to make the younger part of the population more work ready,” says Ruark.
Ruark has some suggestions on how to do that:
-Lower tuition and increase financial aid.
-Encourage universities to offer more work-study options.
-Provide more support services to young, single mother’s.
-Focus on healthcare for older workers who don’t make a lot of money.
The report also includes county data on employment and lost workers to provide insight on local trends.
For that information, click here.