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Brain Gain: Professionals Find Niche in Rural Upper Midwest

A recent US Study found that, while like most regional communities in Australia, many rural communities in the United States are losing the 15-29 age demographic (as they explore education and job opportunities elsewhere), they are gaining in the 30-49 age demographic. This older age group has considerable skills and experience that they are bringing to these rural US communities. Additionally, they are bringing children, which (important for regional Australia) provides demand for teachers and education (shoring up the local schools). For regional Australia, these families also become dedicated participants in local sporting and community clubs (both as participants and volunteers). Read the article here.

Unfortunately, this trend is not currently taking place across regional Australia. In fact, regional Australia is losing the 35-49 age demographic (Figure 1). At the same time, regional Australia is experiencing considerable growth in the 65+ age demographic (similar to urban areas). The key difference of course is the impact on the local economies. Middle aged demographics, particularly families, are very productive for the economy, not only through their participation in the workforce (often more meaningful and valuable than younger demographics) but also through their consumption patterns. As such, many regional communities often experience a compounding effect of less productive power in the economy (fewer middle aged workers and lots of retired workers) and less consumption (fewer families and high proportion of older residents that spend less).

Figure 1. Population Growth, by Age Group, Urban and Regional (2011-16)

Source: ABS Census

These changes are nothing new and numerous regional communities are pro-active in terms of economic development and will reap the future gains that stem from recruiting investment, encouraging local businesses and experiencing job growth (all of which brings the middle-aged and family demographic back to the community).

Time will tell if like many trends from the US this one migrates our way.

If you want to discuss demographic trends and their impact on your local economy, get in touch with us (1-800-940-990 or

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