Where do millennials work?

Millennial employment patterns don’t always reflect market demand.

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As Research Editor Kim Moore reported a few weeks ago, many industry sectors — manufacturing, utilities — are facing a  “silver tsunami”: an abundance of aging workers. 

So where are millennials working? Health care, retail and customer service.

According to Oregon Employment Department data, over the past decade these sectors have seen an increase in workers between ages 22 and 34.

Where aren’t millennials working?  Manufacturing tops the list, followed by construction, finance, real estate and information services.

Millennials aren’t always going where the jobs are. For example, construction is currently the fastest growing sector in Oregon.

“There are a lot of opportunities for millennials with the right skills to find work in construction,” says Nick Beleiciks, economist for the Oregon Employment Department.

But millennials have yet to make inroads in that industry, probably because they came of age at the wrong time, suggests Beleicks.

“The construction industry was cutting jobs and then not growing at all from 2007 through 2013, a period when many millennials were starting their careers,” he says. “There wasn’t a lot of job opportunities for new workers in construction at the time, so young people went into other industries that were hiring.”

Construction rebounded in 2014 but there’s still a deficit of millennial workers. 

New data from the state employment department shows a slight increase in millennial hiring in the manufacturing sector, which has hired more young workers than construction in the past few years.

What about software and high tech? Curiously, the data doesn’t support stereotypes of millennial-dominated tech companies.

“Although tech is engrained in the daily lives and jobs of most millennials, they aren’t really over-represented in what is typically considered high-tech industries,” Beleiciks says.

The 35-to-54-year-old actually group holds the largest portion of jobs in the tech sector, he adds.

With the Oregon unemployment rate at historic lows, millennials have more choices than ever.  

“There are a lot of job opportunities in places where millennials may not have looked a few years ago,” Beleiciks says.

But that’s not necessarily good news for industry, which will have to compete fiercely for millennial talent.