Where We Fit In & The Numbers

The Current State of the Workforce

Regardless of our great work, there are still people in the U.P. that are experiencing barriers
to living and employment in our rural area. Some residents even move away to find more opportunity. We continually assess the changes to the region and focus our efforts accordingly to ensure that individuals find sustainable work that they love with employers that need their skills. This effort shines through in our programs and initiatives, such as OneUP Mind Trekkers, apprenticeships, the Early Childhood
Education Task Force, and more

The Numbers

The U.P. population has a noticeable contraction in the 25–55 age range. This decrease (age class 25–55) affects the number of people who are able and willing
to join the workforce (Figure 1).


To address this, UPMW is making a concerted effort to have youth explore careers and engage with businesses through our engagement activies, workshops, and youth- focused programs. We are also making a push to increase the adult workforce by addressing childcare needs that keep many parents out of the workforce.


Through these efforts and more, we continue to work toward increasing the supply of workers to alleviate employment shortages and to catalyze economic growth for the region. 

U.P. Population By Age Range

UP Population by age range

Highest Education Among U.P. Residents from 2017 to 2022

Educational Attainment

Over the last five years, we have seen a significant rise in those earning degrees and certificates after high school (Figure 2). Our close partnerships with schools help students find training and education opportunities that meet their needs. It’s more than just people finding their career path and earning higher pay—it strengthens local businesses by building a skilled workforce.

Labor Force

We’re opening doors for more people to join the workforce. Currently, 136,353 U.P. residents are employed or looking for employment (Figure 3). To engage even more workers, it is vital that we remove hurdles like childcare and transportation.
Lack of childcare is the number one reason why half of our population—women—leave or change jobs. That’s why we’re leading the Early Childhood Education Task Force, to collaborate on solutions.

Engaging youth is critical to the U.P.’s future. From middle school with programs like Mind Trekkers, to high school with workshops and programs like Jobs for Michigan’s Graduates (JMG), we’re guiding students toward bright careers in their communities. The OneUP Collaborative innovates, creating career paths and training opportunities where they’re needed for our in-demand industries such as early childhood education, manufacturing, healthcare, and more.

Active U.P. Labor Force

The U.P. Population: 301,608
16+ Civilan Non-Institutionalized Population: 247,426
Labor Force: 136,353
Employed: 128,915

U.P. Labor Force Participation from 2018 to 2023

labor force participation rate

U.P. Poverty Rate & ALICE Population Breakdown By County

ALICE and Poverty Populations

The poverty rate has decreased in 13 of 15 U.P. counties f rom 2017 to 2022, according to US Census data. This also means that these people are likely moving f rom poverty into the Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed (ALICE) group. A breakdown of these populations by U.P. county can be seen in Figure 5. While this is positive progress, it contributes to growing ALICE levels, which are increasing across the U.P. and the state of Michigan. We will continue to assist this population until they span the gap of full self-sustainability.


The numbers aren’t everything, but they do give us insight on what’s happening across the region and who is being affected. This valuable data helps us to serve every individual and business in the U.P. community at the highest level. We hope that by providing transparent data that we convey that story to you