Issue Brief: Southwest Florida Prime Age Employment
The prime age population represents the core a region’s workforce. This population is typically defined as the population between the ages of 25 and 54 years old, excluding younger age groups that are more likely to be in school (under 25 years old) as well as the older age groups that begin to prepare for retirement (over 54 years old). They represented approximately 49.0 percent of the total US population in 2021, but 63.7 percent of the total labor force. Among this subset of the population, the national prime age employment rate, defined as the share of adults between 25 and 54 years old that are employed, was 78.1 percent in 2021.
Because of their importance to local economies, interest has increased across the nation in finding ways for communities, particularly distressed communities, to reengage this population and understand what conditions lead to suppressed prime age employment rates. In this issue brief, we explore the characteristics of the prime age population in Southwest Florida (defined as Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry and Lee counties). We first look at how the prime age employment rate in Southwest Florida compares to other parts of the nation. We then dive into some demographic characteristics of the population, before finishing with potential barriers to entry for this age group.
We find that the region has seen an increase in the prime age employment rate since 2013, and is a group comprised primarily by the minority population. Furthermore, 76.9 percent of the prime age population drove to work alone, while 11.0 percent carpooled to work. Finally, we find that the three of the larger industries in Southwest Florida (Accommodations and Food Services; Arts, Entertainment and Recreation; and Retail Trade) had some of the lowest shares of prime age population in 2022, thanks primarily to a high concentration of employees under the age of 25.