A group of young professionals are taking the lead to help find ways to keep their peers on Cape Cod. Part one in our original 3-part series "By The Numbers: Worries About Cape Cod's Workforce," examines reasons career-minded young people find it difficult to stay on the Cape, and explores some of the community initiatives to keep them here.
(This is a partial transcript. You can hear the full story by clicking the LISTEN button above.)
It's mostly older folks, casually-dressed year-rounders who make up the lunch crowd of a few dozen people at the Hearth and Kettle in Hyannis. It's a quiet bunch on a cold Wednesday afternoon in January.
But in the back corner room of the restaurant is a chatting group of notably younger people, about 30 in all, and they're there for a sold-out networking luncheon of the Cape Cod's Young Professionals group.
"I wouldn't necessarily have been so excited to stay here if I hadn't found CCYP," said Jeni Landers, a 39-year-old graduate of Dennis-Yarmouth high School, who went away form home and then came back.
- Jeni Landers, age 39
When it comes to the reasons why young families are leaving the Cape, people generally speak about two things: a lack of professional jobs, and a frustrating shortage of reasonably-priced, year-round housing.
In Landers case, she found a full-time position with a law-firm in Hyannis. And as for housing, her parents offered her a place to live with her husband, Chris. So she came back about four years ago.
"We weren't sure how this was all going to play out," she said, "whether we really wanted to be back on the Cape or not. A big decision to come home like that."
During the past few years, it's become clear that many young Cape Codders are not coming home. The 2010 Census tells us that during the previous decade, Barnstable County lost 32 percent of its adults aged 35 to 44. Some towns lost almost 50 percent of that age group.
This dramatic demographic shift is sometimes called the greying of Cape Cod. But what's happening here is more than a numbers story. It's a housing story. An education story. And it's a story about people who are thinking about ways to fix it. For those people, the newest Census numbers give the problem more urgency.