Do You Pay Attention to Local Demographics When Working in HR?

I know most of us pay cursory attention to demographics, at least the one for the US population, or if you are out of the US you probably pay attention to your country, but what about more locally? Do you have any idea of the demographics of the local area from which you may draw your employees? Perhaps you should.

Local populations

While reading an article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (and I have no idea why I was reading something from Pittsburgh) I started thinking about how important it is for someone in HR to be aware of local demographics as opposed to national trends. The article, New trends in aging demographics hit Allegheny County by Gary Rotstein, pointed out that this area had an older population than the country as a whole.  Rothstein said “Allegheny County has spent the past half-century with a greater share of elderly residents than is common nationally, and that local distinction is projected to hold true for another 25 years.” However, he said there are two subtler trends that those numbers don’t show. These are:

  • After nearly two decades in which the number and percentage of people 65 and older here has been declining, that trend has bottomed out, and the older population will be quickly growing in the years ahead, though not as much as in the nation as a whole.
  • The people most in need of services, those 85 and older, have ceased being the fastest-growing part of the county’s population. Their number is projected to reach an all-time high next year before declining for the next decade.

My point is not these trends, though if I were in charge of HR for a hospital or elder care services these numbers might drive my staffing planning, my point is that this is the kind of level that you need to dig to in order to be prepared for the future of you company.

What should you be paying attention to?

There are a number of things you should be paying attention to in HR as far as demographics. Here are just some of them:

  • Age cohorts- How many seniors, remembering that nearly 1 in 3 of adults in their late 60s are still in the workforce today; it was fewer than 1 in 5 three decades ago. Do you rely on seniors for your workforce? Should you?
  • Graduation rates: If you rely on an educated workforce do you know the graduation rate for high school students in your area? How many go off to college? Furthermore, what is the return rate for those students? Not everyone wants to come back and work in the local businesses. If they are not coming back where are you going to get your talent in the future?
  • Diversity of the community- Is the makeup of your community changing? Do you have increasing numbers of minority populations that may become your talent base? Are you prepared to deal with this? Do you know what appeals to these groups in order to better recruit them?

These three things are just some of the things you need to pay attention to NOW in order to be better prepared for the future.

Sources of information

There are a number of sources that can provide you with this information. The primary source is The US Census bureau. Other sources will include your local Chamber of Commerce or your state agencies.

I would recommend you start browsing some of these figures and start thinking about what is important to you in your HR planning. It may be eye opening and save you some trouble in the future.

Image courtesy of emptyglass at

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Mike Haberman

Michael (Mike) D. Haberman, SPHR is a consultant, speaker, writer of HR Observations, and co-founder of Omega HR Solutions, Inc. After over 30 years in HR he got tired of the past and focuses here on the Future of HR. Connect with Mike.


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