Employment Change

Employment patterns affect the number, length and distribution of trips.  Although commuting trips (i.e., home to work or work to home) comprise only 14.2% of the region’s total passenger trips, they create the greatest demand on the transportation system because of their morning and afternoon peak time periods. 21.5% of all trips involve work as a destination (i.e. work to lunch or work to grocery shopping). Currently, about one-half of the region’s population is employed. Employment as a% of population in the OKI region is expected to drop a few percentage points by 2050, as the population ages and a larger percentage move beyond their prime working years.

For years, the region’s employment grew much more rapidly than its population, as the Baby Boomer generation reached working age and raised the proportion of the population absorbed into the labor force, and as a greater proportion of women entered the labor force. Currently, unemployment in the OKI region is at a historic low of 3.1%. This tight labor market has driven up labor force participation rates of seniors and those under 18. During the planning period, the regional employment growth rate will decelerate. This is reflective of a slowing in the region’s population growth rate, return to a normal regional unemployment baseline (around 5%), decline in women’s labor force participation rates, and continued retirement of the Baby Boomers. In 2050, the region’s labor force participation rate will decline slightly from 63.5% in 2020 to 62.8% in 2050, which represents an addition of about 48,000 jobs, while those of typical working age (16 and Older) is projected to increase by 62,750 persons.

The slowing growth of the labor force and employment causes some uncertainty about the future. Unlike what happens in an economic downturn and restructuring, the loss of workers in this case does not in itself represent a loss of jobs. On both regional and national levels, the aging of the workforce is expected to cause a shortage of workers through at least 2030.

This shortage may be offset by increase in migration in response to employment opportunities or by an influx of workers drawn out of retirement or drawn from other members of the labor force not currently employed. In contrast, there may not be a worker shortage if automation achieves new increases in productivity.

Employment by County of Work

For many decades, jobs and people were moving outward from the urban core to the more suburban parts of the region. That trend has begun to reverse when looking at where people live, but not work. The pandemic temporarily resulted in a significant decrease in jobs across the region, as many people were laid off. Most of those jobs have recovered and regional employment remains 98.5% of pre-pandemic levels. Hamilton County still has 21,155 jobs to recover while Boone, Kenton, Clermont, and Warren counties have more jobs than they did prior to the pandemic. The pandemic increased opportunities for telecommuting. And many companies whose employees can do work remotely have adapted either a hybrid or a completely work from home schedule. As a result, office buildings in the core of the region have experienced conversions to residential properties, as office occupancy rates remain below pre-pandemic levels. 72% of all the employment growth between 2020 and 2050 is expected to take place in Boone and Warren counties. According to Woods and Poole, Hamilton County is expected to lose 15,000 jobs between now and 2050. This is primarily due to losses in the manufacturing and retail trade sectors. Both Warren and Boone counties will gain 72% of the region’s employment growth and see an increasing share of the region’s job growth from 18.6% in 2020 to 22.5% in 2050. Hamilton County’s regional share of jobs will decline by 4.3% from 50.3% in 2020 to 46.1% in 2050.

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