We know that workforce is the labor pool in employment and that the labor pool is made up of individuals that have differing skill sets and rewards aligned with those skill sets. We currently enjoy a national 4.0% unemployment rate, but do so with many challenges facing our forward movement. With that in mind what is this nation’s workforce and what does our workforce do to make our nation’s economy viable going forward?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics; historically in 1996, the median age of U.S. employees was 38.3 years old. That metric climbed to 40.8 years old by 2006 and to 42.0 years by 2016. By 2026, the median age of U.S. workers is expected to be 42.3 years old. Thus: our workforce is aging. And that the emerging workforce will need to not only retain skill sets longer in the work being done, but also have the ability to learn new things. Nearly 45 million Boomers are working in the U.S., representing about 29% of the labor force as of 2015 (the latest data available). According to a study done by Boston College, 66% of Baby Boomers plan to work past age 65.
So with the aging population of workers we also know that the labor pool is evolving and changing with technologies. This then is changing the way we do work and the “tool” used to do the work. We now have emerging technologies which continue to make up more of the percentage of the work being done. With the advent of “virtual jobs” and “artificial intelligence”; skillsets and the needs of the employer and employee continue to evolve, while we face a population of individuals who have specialized skill sets that need not only re-tooled but in some cases redone. The way that we work and the need of the marketplace has put a premium on being tech savvy as a basic skill not an ultimate advancement. New architects specializing in technology structures and new manufacturing based in machine languages signal our current trend.
A good example to understand the complexity of this is to understand that we now have as many manufacturing jobs (12.8 million) as we have had since 1949, when it comprised 30% of the work in the labor pool. Today those number of jobs (12.8 million) equal only 8.5% of the current pool. And these jobs are deep departures from the days of high hazard dirty work to controlled clean outcomes done through technicians