Tom Gillaspy is retiring in a Minnesota with a significantly older population than in 1979 when he took the helm as state demographer.
Gillaspy told Tom Crann of All Things Considered Tuesday that the state faces new challenges as large numbers of baby boomers approach retirement age.
"We're beginning to look at alignment issues — that the skills and abilities employers are looking for are different than what young people are bringing in," Gillaspy said. "There are jobs that are going unfilled at the time when there's relatively high unemployment rate."
The mass retirement of baby boomers crept up on those responsible for making public policy, Gillaspy said, largely because lawmakers are more concerned with short-term responsibilities like the state budget than with what happens in the longer term.
"We're just simply not ready for this and we should have been. We can still adapt, it's going to be a little more difficult," Gillaspy said. "it's going to require a little more effort than if we started doing these things 30 years ago."
But Minnesota's resident expert on the state's population remains optimistic.
"It's what we do with it that's the critical issue," he said. "Instead of feeling sorry for ourselves we should be out there grabbing those opportunities and planning for the future."
Susan Brower will take over as Minnesota state demographer after Gillaspy's retirement Tuesday.