PURCHASE, N.Y. – Today's college graduates are facing an uphill battle to find jobs in Westchester County as the population continues to age.
The senior citizen population in Westchester is expected to grow by over 17 percent from 2000 and 2025, according to Laurence Gottlieb, director of economic development for Westchester County. Gottlieb, who spoke at Manhattanville College’s Business Career Fair Tuesday morning, said that conversely, the population of people between 25 and 44 is expected to drop by 1 percent during that same period.
“It’s not unusual to go to a CVS in Westchester and see more folks with gray hair than kids with acne,” Gottlieb said.
Gottlieb said this trend is narrowing the gap between the number of people working and number of retirees. In 1950, he said, there were 16 workers for every retiree in the U.S., but he estimated that by 2025 there would be only two workers for every retiree.
“This is a huge tidal wave that is coming,” Gottlieb said. “If we don’t make sure the youth are employed, it’s going to be more difficult to pay for a retiree’s benefits. People are living longer and this is having a tremendous impact on our economy.”
One of the biggest challenges is the high property taxes in the Northeast. But Gottlieb said the Northeast produces a much higher rate of college graduates, which can potentially lead to higher paying jobs. He said that when he took his current position with the county in 2009, he trademarked it as the “Intellectual Capital of New York State.”
“There is a notion that Westchester County can just grab businesses from the South, but that’s not going to happen because of the type of jobs we have up here,” Gottlieb said. “We pay higher taxes because we want great schools to create smart kids. We need to look at how competitive Westchester County can be given those conditions.”
The biggest challenge facing Westchester, according to Gottlieb, is retaining the young people who grow up here. Gottlieb said that the recession has made that more difficult because, unlike previous recessions, this one has gone on longer.
“We need to keep our youth interested and employable,” Gottlieb said. “I’m saying this not to depress anybody but to arm students with the facts on the job market.”