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More Boone County seniors filling the workforce, coalition says

Thursday, February 25, 2010 | 6:22 p.m. CST; updated 7:43 p.m. CST, Friday, February 26, 2010

* CORRECTION: The percentage of Boone County's senior population participating in the workforce was 17 percent in 2007. An earlier version of this article misidentified the year.

COLUMBIA – There were more seniors in the workforce and more children on free and reduced-price meals in Boone County during 2009, according to the Boone County Indicators Coalition's findings.

“I think the theme this year is tough economic times,” Steve Hollis, manager of human services for the city, said.

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The percentage of Boone County's senior population participating in the workforce was 17 percent in 2007,* up from 13.8 percent in 2001, according to the coalition's data.

“This indicator is important because there are older folks with a lot of experience out there working, which is a good thing," Hollis said. "But if you’re a data person, you know that also means there are less jobs, in theory, available to younger folks.”

Another key indicator — the percentage of children in Boone County on free and reduced-price lunch rates at schools — increased from about 30.8 percent in 2004 to 36 percent in 2009.

Tracy Greever-Rice, associate director of community and economic programs at the Office of Social and Economic Data Analysis, said the economy was making it more difficult for children and younger families.

“If you look at seniors and children, you see that children and young families are losing traction in this recent economic downturn at a far faster rate than seniors are,” Greever-Rice said.

 The coalition is made up of representatives from organizations and numerous agencies, including the Columbia/Boone County Department of Health and Senior Services and Columbia Public Schools.

"One of the things we do is try to, where possible and appropriate, compare Boone County to the state rate,” Hollis said. “In most cases, we’re doing better than the state rate. But still, now that we have done this for awhile, we are able to start seeing some trends.”

The coalition has broken its data into different categories such as basic needs, children and families, health and mental health to provide a wide variety of information. The coalition is also able to connect the trends in data with reasons why they may be occurring.

The latest data and more information can be found at the Boone County Indicators Coalition Web site.


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