Sunday, June 22, 2008

Younger Workers: Getting the Hell Out of the FC

Seriously. This area can stink for young people. It costs too much to do fun things (50 bucks for concerts at the Palace? WHAT?) and there are very few free fun things that don't revolve around children. (Is there any decent music on a regular basis around here? I think the only place is Monster B's. I do not mean cover bands, people.) I'm glad the Advocate covered this topic, but I'm not glad their news stories disappear after two weeks, causing me to have to waste my time reposting them here. If they try to get me in trouble for this, I am going to stand out in front of their building with a mean sign. I'm giving proper credit, so I think it should be OK.

Area economy at risk as younger workers leave state
By Richard Lee Business Editor 06/13/2008

Fairfield County prides itself on its educated work force, but that status may be in jeopardy with an exodus of younger college-educated residents and the retirement of baby boomers.

Christopher Bruhl, president and chief executive officer of The Business Council of Fairfield County, yesterday told an audience of more than 50 area executives that southwestern Connecticut's economy could be affected by the flight of educated workers.

"We (Connecticut) are leading the nation in exporting our 25- to 34-year-olds. The work force has a growing number of under-educated people," said Bruhl. Forty percent of Fairfield County, however, have college degrees, compared with the national average of 27 percent.

Bruhl referred to 2004 figures showing that the county experienced a 21 percent decrease in the 25-to 34-year-old population from 141,437 in 1990 to 111,849 in 2004.

Connecticut had a 30 percent decrease in the same demographic during the same period, placing the state last in U.S. rankings.

Education of immigrants and inner-city children remains the key driver in developing an educated work force to replace retirees and those who are leaving the state, he said, as the state contends with a widening income gap among its residents.

"More people are leaving Connecticut than being replaced by international immigration. We're looking at an absolute labor scarcity, as well as a skills mismatch," Bruhl said.

Fairfield County, however, continues to benefit from its proximity to New York City's thriving business center, Bruhl said, as many of the region's residents commute to the city for their jobs, and companies move from the city to the county.

Despite being an integral part of Connecticut's economy, Fairfield County looks to its neighbor to the west for its economic stability, he said.

One of the newest corporate arrivals in Stamford takes a different view.

"We've had terrific cooperation from the mayor (Dannel Malloy) and the state in moving the project forward," said RBS spokesman Christopher Riley, referring to the 12-story, 500,000 square-foot-building expected to open in early 2009 and employ 1,850.

The education and transportation challenges mentioned by Bruhl should be everyone's concern, he said.

The region continues to face clogged highways and crowded commuter trains, but he credited the state for its effort to increase commuter cars on Metro-North Railroad.

"New rail cars are coming, and there's a trend to better access to the railroad," Bruhl said, noting plans to increase parking at train stations.

Health care also is a challenge, he said, contending that the cost and availability of health care are reaching breaking points.

"We're getting to the point where society will have to talk about rationing health care," Bruhl said.

No comments: