© Copyright 2005 by the Wyoming Department of Employment, Research & Planning
Labor Retention: Out-Migration of Youth
by: Sylvia D. Jones, Senior Research Analyst
Following a cohort of Wyoming workers through the labor market over a period of time can provide a rich description of the underlying market dynamics associated with labor allocation and retention in the state. By the end of the 11- year tracking period, 56.6 percent of the youth who worked in 1993 were no longer employed in Wyoming.
According to U.S. Census Bureau (2002) estimates, the number of individuals age 18 to 24 has stayed, and is expected to stay, relatively constant when viewed through the perspective of a single point in time measure. Large growth is not expected as the cohort moves into the next age bracket either. This consistency could mean either the same group of people is staying and working in Wyoming or the individuals are being replaced as quickly as they leave. As a point-in-time measure, Census Bureau estimates cannot answer the questions about migration and replacement. However, following a cohort of Wyoming workers through the labor market over a period of time by matching Wyoming Wage Records to demographic information can provide a rich description of the underlying market dynamics associated with labor allocation and retention in the state.
Cohort analysis tracks the same population over time. In this article, we tracked all individuals with earnings in Unemployment Insurance (UI) covered industries in 1993 through 2003. Persons may not have had earnings because they were unemployed (but still in the market), withdrew from the labor market (e.g., for family responsibilities or school enrollment), became employed in a non-UI covered industry (e.g., production agriculture), or left the state.
Tables 1, 2, and 3 illustrate the work experiences of a cohort of individuals who were age 18 to 24 and worked in Wyoming at some point during 1993. There were a total of 44,873 people who met this criteria and were included in the analysis. Of the total, 21,920 were women and 22,953 were men.
Table 1 focuses on women only. In 1993, the largest proportions worked in Accommodation & Food Services (32.6%), Retail Trade (22.9%), and Health Care & Social Assistance (10.6%). In 1995 members of the group were age 20 to 26 and 34.3 percent of the original cohort of women were no longer working in the Wyoming workforce (see Figure 1). Accommodation & Food Services, Retail Trade, and Health Care & Social Assistance still employed the largest percentage of remaining female workers, however, those percentages dropped to 16.1, 14.2, and 9.7 percent, respectively, compared to 1993. By 2003, when the cohort reached age 18 to 34, almost 60 percent of the women working in 1993 were no longer employed in Wyoming’s UI covered industries. Health Care & Social Assistance and Educational Services employed the largest number of the remaining workers (8.2% and 5.6%, respectively). In other words, nearly 60 percent of women who were 18 to 24 in 1993 no longer worked in Wyoming 11 years later. The industries which lost the most workers were also the ones which paid the least and offered the fewest benefits (see Cowan, Hauf, & Leonard, 2005).
Similar trends can be seen in the data for men (see Table 2). By the end of the tracking period, 53.5 percent of the original cohort of men were not working in the Wyoming labor market (see Figure 1). The biggest difference in the work behavior displayed in these tables is in the distribution of industries. As previously stated, young women were concentrated in Accommodation & Food Services, Retail Trade, and Health Care & Social Assistance. Concentrations of young men, however, were found in Accommodation & Food Services (19.3%), Retail Trade (16.9%), and Construction (16.0%) in 1993. At the end of the tracking period, men were concentrated in Construction (8.5%) and Mining (7.0%), suggesting that individuals gain experience in a lower paying industry (Accommodation & Food Services) and then use those skills to move into a higher paying industry (Mining) or leave the Wyoming labor market.
Table 3 tracked all workers by industry over the same period. The most important observation is that by the end of the 11-year tracking period, 56.6 percent of the youth who worked in 1993 were no longer employed in Wyoming.
Even though most of the 1993 young workers have left Wyoming’s labor market, new workers born in the state and in-migrants have filled the 18- to 24-year-old gap. Table 4 shows the industry distribution of those in the age group (18 to 24) in 2003. The total for this cohort is remarkably similar to the 1993 cohort (44,540 compared to 44,873, respectively). Apparently the available labor pool has thus far remained stable. This observation is consistent with the Census Bureau’s estimates and population projections.
The industry distribution of employment remained fairly stable between the two time periods as well. Women were working primarily in Accommodation & Food Services and men were working in Construction, Retail Trade, and Accommodation & Food Services. With some notable exceptions, job opportunities for youth seem to be similar in both 1993 and 2003.
Table 5 compares the total 1993 cohort to the 2003 cohort to better evaluate any change in the industry distribution of the young workforce. Some industries employed more younger workers in 2003 than in 1993. Accommodation & Food Services and Agriculture lost the greatest percentages of workers. Accommodation & Food Services lost approximately 2,500 workers (a 21.8% decline) to other industries. (Industries with earnings higher than Accommodation & Food Services showing large numeric gains in 2003 were Mining [n=545], Construction [n=673], Health Care & Social Assistance [n=865], and Educational Services [n=815].) This decline is significant in light of the fact that Accommodation & Food Services is projected to be a high growth industry (Leonard, in press). Previous research indicates that in 2002 nonresident workers comprised over one-third of the employment in the Leisure & Hospitality industry, of which Accommodation & Food Services is a component (Gallagher et al., 2005). Consequently, meeting the employment demand in Accommodation & Food Services will require even greater reliance on nonresident workers because Wyoming’s youth appear to be taking advantage of work opportunities in other industries .
Cowan, C., Hauf, D., & Leonard, D. W. (2005). Wages and benefits in Wyoming: Combining the Wyoming wage survey and the employer benefits survey for an exploration of total compensation. Retrieved April 11, 2005, from http://doe.state.wy.us/LMI/OESBenPub.pdf
Gallagher, T., Harris, M., Hiatt, M., Leonard, D. W., Saulcy, S., & Shinkle, K. R. (2005). Private sector employee access to health insurance and the potential Wyo-Care market. Casper, WY: Wyoming Department of Employment, Research & Planning.
Leonard, D. W. (in press). Industries and occupations projected to grow or decline in the short term and over the next decade. Outlook 2010 Revisited: Wyoming’s Labor Market at Mid-Decade.
U.S. Census Bureau (2002). Detailed state projections by single year of age, sex, race, and Hispanic origin: 1995 to 2025. Retrieved May 16, 2005, from http://www.census.gov/population.www/projections/stproj.html
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