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January 20, 2020

North Central Mass. report highlights workforce growth, aging challenges

Photo | Google Downtown Leominster

A new report on North Central Massachusetts commissioned by the region's chamber of commerce shows workforce job growth across nearly every sector.

The fastest growing job sectors through the first nine years of the decade were educational services (up 29%), agriculture (22%), and construction and health care (each 21%), according to the report from the UMass Donahue Institute, which was commissioned by the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce. 

Jobs in total grew by 10% in total. Across the state, jobs grew 17% during that time, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The region is slower growing than state and national averages, though, and is due to face a quickly aging population.

In the next two decades, for example, the area's 19-and-under population is projected to shrink by almost 16%. But the 65-and-over population will nearly double. That could put pressure on employers to find enough workers from within the region, especially to replace those soon to retire.

The report included 26 communities primarily in Worcester County but also in Franklin and Middlesex counties.

Manufacturing continues to be a major employer, with a concentration of such jobs nearly doubling the national average. Manufacturing jobs grew 6% from 2010 to '18. The sector, often a bellwether for the economy and sometimes susceptible to broad market forces, added roughly 900 jobs, hitting nearly 16,000.

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