Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Age and Employment in the Uintah Basin

People work (and choose not to work) differently depending on where they live and how old they are. Obviously different people also prefer to live in different places. This can be because of employment opportunities, amenities, or even family ties. In like fashion, some industries attract a certain age demographic and are necessarily located in certain places.

The US census bureau tracks data like this and it allows economists to analyze the differences in age groups in different areas and industries.

The graph below shows employment by age in Utah, Duchesne and Uintah Counties (the Uintah Basin) 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.

It is obvious that the age make-up of the Uintah basin and the oil and gas industry is different from Utah as a whole. The striking difference is in the 16-24 grouping (known as a cohort); Utah has more workers in this cohort than the basin or the industry. It is likely that the difference between Utah and the basin can be explained by the lack of four year universities in the area. The rather large difference between the state and basin can best be explained by the relative lack of four year institutions in the area (Utah Valley University does have a branch in Vernal). 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 are over represented in the industry. Older cohorts are accordingly under represented. The speculation here is that these jobs are physically demanding and require workers in the “prime of life”.

Lastly, it stand to reason that if workers in the 25-34 cohort are over represented in oil and gas sector, they must be underrepresented 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.