Curtin Call: April 2024

May 01, 2024
Teal graphic with Julie Curtin's headshot for blog on economic development trends

With Economic Development Week right around the corner, the industry is buzzing with conversations and ideation around how to communicate the impact that economic development has on destinations around the globe. Good luck to your EDO and community as you share the results of your impact. Remember that IEDC has a toolkit you can leverage in your efforts! 

April brought with it a shower (pun intended) of articles, research and content that offer up new ideas, important insights and learnings for anyone working in economic development or talent attraction. Join me in giving these outlets, content creators, researchers and thought leaders one last round of applause for content worthy of an encore.

1. On Gen Z in the Workforce

The Wall Street Journal’s recent exploration into Gen Z’s gravitation towards skilled trades illuminates a transformative shift in career preferences. There are big factors pushing the shift beyond escalating wages. A growing skepticism of traditional college paths is also making skilled trades an increasingly enticing option for the youngest segment of the American workforce. 

Enrollment in vocational programs has surged, showcasing a newfound appreciation for the hands-on nature and financial stability offered by these professions. Read about this growing trend that, ultimately, leads to higher wages and career satisfaction.  

The rise of robotics and modern equipment in vocational training further underscores the evolving landscape of these industries. These high-tech developments are challenging outdated stereotypes and opening doors to lucrative opportunities for Gen Z, who are keenly embracing the potential for meaningful work and financial success in the skilled trades arena.

2. On Baby Boomers Back at Work

Baby Boomers are returning to the workforce, and this CNN article introduces why we should all pay attention. With broader shifts in retirement dynamics, Americans over 75 are the fastest-growing age group in the workforce. Factors such as increased life expectancy, changes in job nature and financial necessity are all driving factors. 

The narrative captures the dichotomy of retirement experiences. Some older adults choose to continue working for personal fulfillment while others simply have to keep working.

The piece also touches on systemic issues such as the changing landscape of retirement plans, the looming challenges with Social Security and ageism in the workplace. It’s clear there is policy reform needed to help accommodate this aging workforce.

Our annual Talent Wars report, to be released May 14, sheds light into these generational shifts and more.

3. On America’s Top Job Markets

In 2023, job markets saw themselves growing under the sun and nestled amidst mountains, according to an article released by The Wall Street Journal in accordance with Moody Analytics. 

Salt Lake City emerged as the premier destination for job seekers, boasting a vibrant tech hub known as “Silicon Slopes” and attracting professionals seeking affordability without compromising quality of life. Following closely were the sun-soaked cities of Florida, with Jacksonville, Orlando, and Tampa shining brightly among America’s hottest job markets.

The data paints a picture of a strong national economy, tempering expectations for Federal Reserve interventions. These flourishing job markets not only beckon professionals with promising career prospects but also underline the growing allure of non-traditional employment centers with ample recreational opportunities and thriving business landscapes.

4. On the Best and Worst States for Business

The latest Chief Executive survey unveiled a dynamic landscape in state business climates. Texas and Florida continue to lead the pack, showcasing consistent appeal. States like California and New York linger at the bottom. However, mid-tier states like North Dakota are making significant advancements, contrasting with setbacks faced by others such as New Mexico due to workforce shortages.

CEOs are increasingly open to exploring new business locations, driven by evolving priorities beyond traditional tax considerations. Factors like housing affordability, quality of life, and energy availability are gaining prominence, emphasizing the need for states to adapt policies to attract and retain businesses.

5. On Job Openings in Economic Development 

Networking is still a great way to find a job. Here are a few new roles open. Tell them DCI sent you!

Julie Curtin headshot
Written by

Julie Curtin

President, Economic Development Practice