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Massachusetts labor shortage driven by aging population, people leaving the state, report says

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The jobs are there in Massachusetts, but nobody seems to want them, says a new report, which shows there are twice as many job openings as unemployed people in the state.

The report, released Wednesday by the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, lays out a grim economic outlook for the state, which is facing a contracting workforce driven by an aging population, declining birth rate and people choosing to move elsewhere at the fourth-highest rate in the country.

“Systemic changes to the economy since the pandemic affecting all sectors, combined with troubling demographic trends, are causing the state’s talent pipeline to contract,” said MTF President Eileen McAnneny.

“Policymakers must proactively work to reverse this trend by making Massachusetts a more affordable and competitive place to be in order to ensure the commonwealth’s future economic growth.”

In September, Massachusetts had 289,000 job openings and 129,000 people unemployed, suggesting a labor shortage of 160,000.

Massachusetts has lost 900,000 residents to other states since 1981, a trend that spiked at 46,000 in 2021, “as people took advantage of remote work or labor shortages in other states to find a better quality of life,” the report stated.

The number of work-aged residents 20-64 in the Bay State 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 residents are fleeing Massachusetts, demographic data suggests they’re not leaving New England, as the overall population of the region’s five other states grew by 40,000.

Further eroding the state’s labor force is its aging population and low birth rate, the report said.

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