Invest Hamilton County

Memos From Mike

A Significant Misalignment – How Jobs and Education Demographics Align
April 11, 2024

Last month (March 2024), speaker Susan Koehn from Lightcast was addressing over 150 local business and community leaders at the Invest Hamilton County State of the Workforce annual program. She showed the graph below (linked here) and stated that when seeing she showed it to a national data expert on her team, his response was, “this may be the greatest misalignment between labor market demand and population education he has ever seen.” This same graph has been a part of Invest Hamilton County presentations since 2022, and every year it drives home the challenges (and opportunities) these dynamics will bring to our community in the coming years. This same chart also served as a major prompt for the development of our Talent InSight 2030 labor market forecast.

(Source: Lightcast Q1 2024, Invest Hamilton County, State of the Workforce 2024 Event, The Bridgewater Club, Westfield, IN; March 2024.)

Overall, the dynamics represented within our labor market are the dream scenario for many communities across the country and are a result of excellence. We are a growing community that is highly attractive to highly educated and in-demand workers from across the country as a place to live. This prompts additional economic development opportunities from their employers and sparks additional demand for the services that make a place great to live like restaurants, bakeries, coffee shops, child care, health care and schools. We also participate in a broader regional labor market with many residents filling in-demand positions with employers in Indianapolis, which benefits all central Indiana.

I sum the challenge up as this… many of the jobs that make a place great to live also aren’t filled by people who can afford to live in a great place. Basic supply and demand economics applies to communities just like they do to any good or service that has a limited quantity. If more people want to live in a community than the community has quantity of opportunities, then price increases. The people who then can afford to live in a great place also have resources to sustain quality of life and service-sector attractions and quality of life amenities within their local market, which then drives up the demand for workers to fill those roles.

Initiatives like workforce housing can help with these dynamics to an extent, but in our case the labor market demand outstrips the capacity for housing, as we become a net importer of talent in the coming 12-18 months.

Hamilton County, our cities and towns, our employers and our community stakeholders will all need to be engaged in collaborative and forward-thinking initiatives to address this imbalance, and strategically partner to solve some of our most pressing challenges. I know we’re up for it.