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Educated, experienced and unemployed

John Seelmeyer

The ranks of the unemployed in northern Nevada appear to include a larger-than-expected number of well-educated and experienced managers, many them aged 50 or older.

And that, in turn, may hint that younger workers who aren’t as deeply rooted in the community have been more likely to pull up stakes and head elsewhere in search of employment.

A survey of about 300 jobseekers conducted during December by Itsaboutjobs.com found that 30 percent of the respondents hold a bachelor’s or an advanced degree.



By comparison, U.S. Census data shows that about 26 percent of the population of the Reno-Sparks region is college-educated.

Slightly more than 40 percent of the respondents said they previously held senior-level management jobs.



About 45 percent of the respondents said they are 50 or older, a number that’s more than twice as great as the size of working-age people over the age of 50. Something less than 20 percent of the working-age population in the Reno area is between 50 and 65 years old, census data show.

Itsaboutjobs.com is a free Web site that aggregates employment opportunities in the region and uses search-term matching to alert jobseekers of newly posted openings that match the skills they’ve detailed in their resumes. The site is a project of Nevadaworks, which oversees workforce development efforts in the region.

Tom Fitzgerald, chief executive officer of Nevadaworks, says the number of unemployed senior executives in the region might be viewed as a strength as the economy begins to recover. That cadre of jobless workers that can get to work quickly, he says, can be an asset to an expanding company or one that’s relocating and recruiting in northern Nevada.

That can’t come quickly enough for many of the people who use Itsaboutjobs.com to search for employment. Some 28 percent of the respondents in last month’s survey said they’ve been out of work for a year or more.

All the data, Fitzgerald says, point to the possibility that people who can move easily in search of work may be doing so.

Older workers those with kids in school, family and social connections in the region, houses they’d need to sell are more likely to stay put and search for work in northern Nevada, he says.

As a result of the weak economy, State Demographer Jeff Hardcastle has projected that the population of Washoe County might decline by as much as 4.3 percent during the next five years.

While the survey by Itsaboutjobs.com found that older workers are struggling to find jobs, the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation says the employment market is no picnic, either, for young workers.

Part of the challenge faced by younger workers, state economists say, comes from older workers who are coming back into the workforce.

At the start of 2008, the number of teen-aged workers in Nevada was roughly equal to the number of workers over age 65.

But as gray-haired workers came back, and teen-aged workers gave up the search for jobs, the number of Nevada workers aged 65 or older in August was about 22,000 greater than the number of teen workers.

The state economists said employers like the experience and loyalty of older workers, and young people are likely to continue to feel competition from a graying workforce.

The unemployment rate in the Reno-Sparks area stood at 13.2 percent in November.

SIDEBAR

Ready to bolt

Retention of good workers is likely to get greater attention from northern Nevada employers during 2011.

A survey of about 300 users of the Itsaboutjobs.com Web site found that 16 percent of the respondents already are employed. They were turning to a job-matching site operated by Nevadaworks to see if they could find a better job.

And about 45 percent of young workers are saying that they’re preparing to leave their current employer as soon as possible as the economy starts recovering, says Tom Fitzgerald, chief executive officer of Nevadaworks.

Young workers historically have been far more likely to move from job to job.

Economists with the State Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation say the turnover rate for teen-aged workers in Reno-Sparks runs about 24 percent compared with 9 percent for the workforce as a whole.

NNBW staff


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