Kinexus sees lower youth participation in the workforce


Manufacturing, healthcare, and hospitality lead the workforce sectors here in southwest Michigan, according to the Kinexus Group.

The group released its data on the latest job trends in the area this week and says although the labor market has slackened, there is an increase of 20% over the last year. In the data, Kinexus also revealed that the older population makes up of 26.8%  of the labor force in Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren counties, which is older than the national average.

Paul Kirk, Vice president of workforce at Michigan Works in Berrien, Cass and Van Buren is concerned about the issue.

If we don’t solve for some of these issues, our aging population labor force, and attract the younger generation into our labor force and opportunities here at home, I’m afraid we’re going to run into issues,” Kirk said.

Since the pandemic, the youth participation in the labor force has gone down according to Kinexus. In the state of Michigan, the unemployment rate for youth ages 16-24 was 8.7% for the last 12 months ending in April. Roger Curtis of Youth Solutions has worked with labor agencies around the region to help eliminate this problem.

“Youth Solutions, through Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates as well as our other services, really gets the youth ready for whatever that post-secondary effort is,” Curtis said.

Kinexus group did share that the labor force level in Berrien, Van Buren, and Cass Counties has increased to 59.2%, a half percentage point below the 2019 estimate.