Grand County is a Baby Boomer county: The good and the bad
May 9, 2017
"Grand County has nearly 33 percent of its population within the Baby Boomer generation, one of the highest shares in the State and in the Nation."
I was both mortified and reassured by that buried in the recent report from the State Demography Office's recent report called "Transitions: Population and Economic Trends for Grand County."
The Baby Boomers are those who were born from 1946 to 1964, which suggests there are more Beatniks, Hippies, Vietnam veterans and Disco Kings and Queens in our midst than I had ever imagined.
This is mortifying because it makes me an average or median Boomer, or someone buried right in the middle of the demographic masses. And yet it is somehow reassuring because in that demographic my "age situation" reflects what is both worrisome and hopeful for business trends in Grand County.
The concerning part is pointed out in the report wherein it states: "Grand is aging. Can it retain the 65-plus? Can it fill jobs opened by retirees leaving as well as the jobs seniors create?"
While I have no intention of leaving anytime soon, the truth is that as many of the Boomers retire and leave local jobs they are doing two things that could hurt our local economy. First, they are most likely taking highly productive and experienced employees (themselves) and managers out of the workforce. Study after study reveals that experienced, long term employees and managers tend to be more efficient and effective at their jobs. This would suggest that we may soon start to suffer from drain on a portion of our productive workforce that helps to sustain our economy.
What's even more concerning about that fact is that this would then create job openings in an economy where, as I've stated in the past, we already are at full employment. In other words, it's likely going to be hard to fill those newly vacant jobs, whether it's for the jobs themselves or vacancies further down the job ladder created by workers promoted to the Baby Boomers' jobs.
And then, adding insult to injury, there's a chance that some of those employees will be moving out of the county, taking their reliable retirement income (and probable disposable income) with them. We need those people to stay so they can help to bolster our local economy.
These somewhat obvious impacts of having all these Boomers around create a realm of opportunity for our local economy as well. Most of these opportunities are for new jobs in the health care field, which sounds a little depressing to me as I may be one of those people in need of those health care services. Here are a few of those jobs: home health aides and assistance, personal and home care aides, physician assistants, physical therapists and their assistants, dental assistants, physical therapists, occupational therapists and pharmacy technicians. The list goes on, but I'm sure you get my drift here.
On the more fun side of the jobs ledger are careers in recreation and diversion that retirees and part-time Boomer workers will want with more time and money at their disposal.
So it's not all bad news that us Baby Boomers abound in Grand County. It's obvious that many may be retired but they won't all be "retiring," and there's opportunity in that for the young, the old and the in-between.
Patrick Brower is a weekly columnist for Sky-Hi News. He is the enterprise facilitator for the Grand Enterprise Initiative, offering free and confidential business management coaching to anyone who wants to start or expand a business in Grand County. He can be reached by calling (970) 531-0632 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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