Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Age and Employment in the Uintah Basin 

People work (or choose not to work) , in part, depending on where they live and how old they are. People also prefer to live in different places. Factors such as employment opportunities, amenities, or even family ties dictate to such. In like fashion, some industries attract a certain age demographic and are necessarily located in certain places. The US Census Bureau tracks data that can shed light on some of this variation. It allows economists to analyze the differences in age groups in different areas and industries. The graph below shows employment by age in Utah, the Uintah Basin, (Duchesne and Uintah counties), and the Uintah Basin mining sector. For accounting purposes, all extractive industries are shown but the overwhelming majority of these jobs are in oil and gas. Mining, as an industry, was singled out due to its prominence in the Uintah Basin’s economic foundation.

The age make-up of the oil and gas industry is different from the Utah and Uintah Basin profile. A striking difference is in the 16-24 year age grouping (known as a cohort). Both areas have more workers in this cohort than in the Basin’s mining industry. The relative lack of the 16-24 cohort in the oil and gas industry can be explained by the industry’s need for an educated work force; the American Petroleum Institutes’ basic certification program requires 150 hours of class time. In contrast, a bachelors degree requires 360 hours.

Of interest is the difference between the oil and gas industry and basin and state in the 25-44 cohorts. These ages have a significant presence in this industry. Older cohorts are accordingly less represented. It is speculated that these jobs are physically demanding and are accepted more readily by workers in the “prime of life.” Lastly, it stands to reason that if workers in the 25-34 cohort are heavily represented in the oil and gas industry, they must be less represented in other industries. Retail trade and accommodations have strikingly lower counts of workers in this cohort; the proportions being 17 percent and 19 percent respectively.