Like you, I read and listen and try to pay attention. Here are three trends/developments that are looking more and more permanent, and the changes they will bring are really significant.
Trend #1 – practically everywhere, the average age is going straight up. We are living longer, and having fewer children.
What does this mean? Well, rather obviously, there will be fewer workers to “provide” for the retirement needs of the older folks. So, one major need is that people will keep working, and postponing and postponing retirement. (Note: IRS employee Vernon Hunter, the man who was killed in the suicide plane attack in Austin, was actively working at age 67. In the past, retirement was preferred at age 62, practically mandatory at age 65).
Andrew Sullivan blogged about the “Rise of the Wrinkled,” quoting the Times on-line “The silver haired revolution: Youth is old hat — the elderly are slowly taking over the planet, dance, art, even youthful plays such as Romeo and Juliet.”
Here’s a telling excerpt:
The average citizen of the world is currently less than 30; yet, when he dies, that average age will have risen to 50… Thanks to a crash in its birth rate, in the space of 30 years Italy has gone from being Europe’s youngest country to its oldest; after Japan, it is now the second oldest country in the world. There are only 1.3 Italian taxpayers to each pensioner.
I make this observation: I interact with a large group of folks who in a prior era would have been close to retirement. They are hard at work, making future work plans. It energizes them, but I suspect that it is partly driven by economic necessity (and a little bit of fear).
Trend #2 – Women are on the rise, and men are in less good shape.
I have blogged before about this fact: women are now receiving a majority of degrees in every level of higher education. Men are simply not keeping up in their college and graduate pursuits, and this will ultimately dramatically reshape the entire work force.
There are way too many articles/stories about this to list them all, but here is an excerpt from one recent article, Women earn the freedom to opt out by Karen Mazurkewich:
This year, American women will pass a major milestone: They will surpass men in the workplace. Canadian women passed the 50% threshold last year. The gender revolution has quietly overtaken us.
But there is some good news: Women may be better suited than men to have and hold jobs in the future…
First, more women than men graduate from university, making the female workforce more educated. Now, a study from Harvard University suggests that in a world where job uncertainty is increasing, women can better adapt to career change…
The message to companies: “You should be hiring women [because] women may bring a lot more of their performance to your company than men…”
Trend #3 – The joblessness in the “recovery” is deepening.
As I have blogged about before, I believe this is the key issue facing American business: how do we build companies that build the work force? A nation without jobs is a nation without a middle-class. This is a trend that is absolutely frightening.
Here are the opening paragraphs of this article: THE NEW POOR — Millions of Unemployed Face Years Without Jobs.
Even as the American economy shows tentative signs of a rebound, the human toll of the recession continues to mount, with millions of Americans remaining out of work, out of savings and nearing the end of their unemployment benefits.
Economists fear that the nascent recovery will leave more people behind than in past recessions, failing to create jobs in sufficient numbers to absorb the record-setting ranks of the long-term unemployed.
Call them the new poor: people long accustomed to the comforts of middle-class life who are now relying on public assistance for the first time in their lives — potentially for years to come.
These are the three trends/developments. They are all affecting business, success, the workplace, and our personal lives.