New England is old and getting older, the WSJ informs usOctober 25th, 2011 at 9:27 am by Ted Nesi under Nesi's Notes
Like most of the developed world, the United States is facing the challenge of how to deal with an aging society over the next few decades. And no region of the country will face a bigger challenge than New England.
“A critical macroeconomic question is how a proportionately smaller working-age population can support a proportionately larger population of retirees,” Federal Reserve scholar Richard Woodbury wrote in a recent paper. Nearly 35% of Rhode Island’s adult population will be over the age of 60 by the year 2030, he said.
“Where will the work capacity come from to maintain the country’s aggregate economic production, or standard of living?” Woodbury wondered. “Can the United States, New England, Massachusetts, or Rhode Island continue to produce as much output (and thus earn as much income) if a large wave of Baby Boomer retirement shrinks the relative size of the labor force?”
Public officials are starting to make an active effort to reverse the tide of salt-and-pepper by launching programs to keep people around here, The Wall Street Journal’s Jennifer Levitz reports:
With census figures showing New England leads other parts of the U.S. in the decline of its under-45 age group, the Granite State and its neighbors are desperate to keep young people around.
Massachusetts is funding internships at private companies—$2.2 million this year, up from $1 million last year. In a pilot program started in July, Vermont is forking over cash to graduates who stay in the state. …
The loss of young people is one factor in New England’s slow growth, which puts the region at the forefront of a nationwide aging trend. State leaders in the region say innovation depends on smart, young people and many officials see the signs of that base dwindling. …
Another worry: potential loss of political clout. States that lost congressional seats after the latest census were primarily in the Midwest and Northeast, including Massachusetts.
No specific mention of Rhode Island in her story. But Providence entrepreneur Jack Templin, now an EDC board member, coined the pithiest explanation for how to deal with the problem a few years back – turn Providence into a place where young people can get “made, paid and laid.”
(chart: Federal Reserve Bank of Boston)