Millennials across the Delaware Valley are losing to baby boomers in the job race as the older generation outpaced their younger counterparts in workforce growth from 2007 to 2013, according to a recent study.
"Companies were cautious. They were trying to do more with less and that affected millennials the most,” said Ryan Hunt, a senior career advisor with CareerBuilder, which released the report earlier this month. "The jobs they are not going to add right away during a recession or a tepid recovery is entry level.”
The number of jobs held by millennials – defined as those aged 22- to 34-years-old – remained flat, increasing a meager 0.2 percent in Philadelphia during the six-year period, according to the report. Meanwhile, Philly’s boomers, aged 55- to 64-years-old, held 9 percent more jobs in 2013 than they did in 2007.
Millennials in Atlantic City fared even worse. Jobs held by the group fell 7 percent as boomers’ jobs jumped 7 percent, the report shows.
“Atlantic City’s economy has really suffered over the last several years, partly because of the growth of casinos elsewhere in the region,” said Ryan Sweet, a director with West Chester, Pa.-based Moody’s Analytics.
The lifestyle choices distinguishing millennials from other age groups – renting instead of buying a home and ditching cars in favor of public transit – also contributed to the drop in AC, Sweet explained.
"They are more mobile,” he said. “So if the job market is rough in Atlantic City, they can go to a more dynamic metro.”
The lack of millennial job growth in Philadelphia mirrors the national trend.
Across the U.S., jobs held by 22- to 34-year-olds rose a paltry 0.3 percent while boomers’ jobs jumped 9 percent, according to CareerBuilder.
But the fields in Philly where the younger cohort lost jobs – architecture and engineering, computer and mathematical, and life, physical and social sciences --point to a long-standing local issue known as the "brain drain."
"They come, they get educated and then they leave," Sweet said. "But Philadelphia is in a much better position to retain more of those graduates now than it was 10, 20 years ago."
The boomers, who put off retirement during the recession, will start to step down soon – which will help millennials, as well as Generation Xers move up the corporate hierarchy, Hunt said.
Sweet points to the city’s various tech start-ups and Comcast’s planned incubator space as reasons for millennials to stay.
A rebounding construction industry should also help local twenty-somethings gain jobs, Sweet added.
"You will start to see job growth shift from the low paying industries, like retail, to the high-paying industries – various parts of healthcare, business and professional services, information and technology, construction and manufacturing," Sweet said. "That will be enticing."