Lincoln County Lacks Younger Workers

According to data from the 2010-2014 American Community Survey by the Census Bureau as a region, the five counties of northwest Oregon including Benton, Clatsop, Columbia, Lincoln and Tillamook counties generally had fewer children and young working-age adults than did the state as a whole. Tillamook and Lincoln counties had proportionately more residents over the age of 60. Of these five counties in northwest Oregon, the age distribution of Lincoln County differed more often from the states.

It had relatively more people age 45 and older than the state and fewer people under age 45. Not only did Lincoln County differ from the state it usually differed by larger amounts than the other counties. Of the 13 age groups, Lincoln County had 10 that differed by 1 percentage point or more from the state’s distribution. An important workforce difference between this region and the state is that every county in this region has a smaller proportion than the state of adults ages 25 to 44. Whether it is a lack of work opportunities, cultural amenities or some other factor, the region is not attracting young workers as well as other areas.

The different age distributions between the counties reflect their locations, cultural and educational opportunities and economies. Older adults and retirees may choose to live along the coast for its natural beauty. But over the past several decades the region has had difficulty generating a sufficient number of family wage jobs and affordable homes to retain workers with dependents. Many young people have moved to large metro areas where jobs and homes are in greater abundance.