Jobs are there in Massachusetts, but nobody seems to want them, says a new report that shows there are twice as many job openings as unemployed in the state.
The report, released Wednesday by the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, outlines a bleak economic outlook for the state, which faces a shrinking workforce driven by an aging population, declining birth rates and people opting in, the fourth-highest rate in the US move to another place, face is land.
“Systemic shifts in the economy since the pandemic, affecting all sectors, coupled with troubling demographic trends, are causing the state’s talent pipeline to shrink,” said MTF President Eileen McAnneny.
“Policymakers must work proactively to reverse this trend by making Massachusetts a more affordable and competitive place to ensure future Commonwealth economic growth.”
In September, Massachusetts had 289,000 job openings and 129,000 unemployed, suggesting a labor shortage of 160,000.
Massachusetts has lost 900,000 residents to other states since 1981, a trend that rose to 46,000 in 2021 “as people took advantage of remote work or other states’ labor shortages to find a better quality of life,” the report said.
The number of working-age residents in the Bay State between the ages of 20 and 64 has declined by 50,000 since 2018, when that population peaked at 4.18 million, and is projected to fall by another 120,000 by 2030, the report said.
While Massachusetts residents are fleeing, demographics suggest they are not leaving New England as the combined population of the region’s five other states has grown by 40,000.
Population aging and low birth rates continue to erode the state’s workforce, the report said.
Massachusetts residents ages 65 and older are expected to account for 22% of the population by 2030, exceeding the projected US rate, the report said. In the short term, many older residents are choosing to retire earlier than planned due to the impact of the pandemic.
Birth rates have fallen by nearly 30% since 1990, a trend that increased during the pandemic. Deaths are projected to exceed births by the end of the decade, leading to negative population growth.
In the past few decades, Massachusetts has been able to offset its low birth rates and mass exodus of residents with the influx of international immigrants, which has grown its population and economy, the report says.
However, international migration fell by 75% during the pandemic compared to 2017.
The state must act aggressively to improve its economic prospects and remain globally competitive in the years to come, the report said.
It must reduce the high cost of housing and improve the reliability of transportation; analyze how well investments in education, workforce training and reskilling prepare people for employment; and provide incentives for students, professionals, and retirees to “build their future in Massachusetts.”