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    CHART OF THE DAY: Do you trust this chart?

    ...if you are say about 25 or 30 years of age, you probably don't.

    This week's installment in CHART OF THE DAY comes courtesy of the recently released Pew Research Report titled Millennials in Adulthood: Detached from Institutions, Networked with Friends, a look at how the Millennial generation is transition into adulthood.

    One of the more interesting findings is that, at least according to this report, the Millennials are much less trusting than the other, older generations. Take a look at the chart from the Pew report, then as you have come to expect, I will have a couple of comments about the data.

    My thoughts on the chart:

    1. There exists a pretty vocal cadre of people that think that all of these kind of generational differences research reports are silly, and that people are all individually distinct, and thus making broad conclusions and generalizations about entire generations is a wasted effort. These people are also wrong.

    2. Could this lower relative level of 'trust' be a factor of the Millennial generation's observance of their parents experience with work and workplaces, which to at least some degree involved the breakdown of things like the employer-employee trust relationship, the ongoing decrease in organized labor, and the gradual phasing out of defined benefit pension programs? Do Millennials 'trust' less because their parents trusted their employers too much?

    3. It could be that the lower 'trust' levels are also a reflection of Millennials own economic challenges. Facing a tough job market in the last several years, feeling the pressure of (for many), significant student loan debt levels, and seeing their friends and themselves having to take jobs outside of their fields, and often in the service industry where low wages, limited benefits, and lack of stability prevail. 'Trust' could be a function of vulnerability. The more vulnerable you are economically, the more wary you become.

    Anyway, have a look at the entire Pew Research report, it offers some interesting data on how this important generation is transitioning into adulthood and what their attitudes suggest for the future of work, workplaces, and the society at large.

    Happy Wednesday. 


    CHART OF THE DAY: The Return of the Quit

    Since many of us in the USA have been a little preoccupied with the relentlessness of global warming that has cleverly disguised itself in the form of the coldest, snowiest, most miserable winter ever, you'd be excused if you didn't notice a little phenomenon or trend developing in your workforce reports and analyses.

    Employees are quitting again. 

    Well, to be fair, employees always quit, even in bad economic times. But take a look at today's Chart of the Day, from the Bureau of Labor Statistics year-end JOLTS (Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey) report which suggests that the 'quit rate', i.e. the voluntary separations as your HRIS probably calls them, is trending higher and higher.

    Here's the chart, and then (of course), some FREE commentary from me:

    Source - BLS Jolts report Dec 2013

    Some thoughts:

    1. 'Quits' are a function of several factors, (personal circumstances, the magnitude of the jerkitude of your managers, people self-selecting out as not being in the right job, etc.), but most observers of the Quit rate on a macro level ascribe movements in the rate to worker's confidence in their ability to find another, and what they think will be a likely 'better', job.  The rate moving up, to a level that is approaching the pre-recession level, is a signal that overall job market confidence is rising.

    2. So while you and many other HR/Talent pros are lamenting about 'hard-to-fill' jobs, simultaneously more of the workforce are thinking of themselves as 'easy-to-place'. I'm not sure how that apparent paradox will work out, (probably very differently depending on location, skills, etc.), but it is kind of interesting and amusing at the same time.

    3. How you are thinking about and reacting to news of a good employee quitting is probably changing too. In 2008 or 2009, you might have reacted by thinking, 'What is she crazy? Where is she going to find another job with as good pay/benefits/cupcake Friday like we have here?'. Now? Probably you'd think more along the lines of 'Hmm... She's going to XYZ Corp? I wonder if she could bring me over there too.'

    4. Last, while the Quit rate increasing kind of feels like it is a good thing, there is certainly some warning signs as well. For one, those recent quitters might find that their skills and experience are not in as high a demand as they figured, and thus end up spiking the unemployment rate in the short term, (as well as having to take a boatload of grief from people questioning their sanity for quitting a perfectly good job). They might find, even today, that keeping a job is much easier than finding a job. And increasing worker confidence might put pressure on companies to increase wages, which can also have a detrimental effect on growth and profits.

    So take a look at the JOLTS report if you are interested in this kind of data, I think it gives a little more color and depth to the more widely reported headline of the total rate of unemployment.

    Are you seeing an increase in 'quits' in your shop?

    Ready to quit yourself?

    Have a great Wednesday!


    CHART OF THE DAY: Where the new jobs are projected to be

    Once again from our friends at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, today's chart is all about jobs - more specifically a look at in which occupations the BLS is forecasting the greatest numerical growth in jobs for the ten-year period of measurement, 2012 - 2022.

    Take a look at the chart, then (of course) a few comments from me afterward:

    Digging in to the data a little bit more (and taking into account the sheer difficultly in making these kind of far out into the future sorts of projections), reveals both some warnings, and some surprises.

    First off, something that is not surprising, is that of the 30 areas projected to experience the largest employment increases, 5 are in healthcare, including 3 of the top 4 jobs that are expected to see the greatest increase, (personal care aides, registered nurses, and home health aides).

    Combined, the top 5 healthcare related occupations are projected to add 1.6 million jobs over the 2012–2022 decade. 

    But while the growth in healthcare jobs is not surprising, given the pressures being put on the healthcare system due primarily to an aging population, what is surprising is what the BLS suggests about the educational attainment needed by workers desiring to actually work in these faster-growing occupations.

    From the BLS sumary:

    Two-thirds of the occupations projected to add the most new jobs typically require a high school diploma or less, while only five typically require a bachelor’s degree.

    Now that little observation is, to me at least, a little surprising, or perhaps just a little misaligned with everything that we typically see about the importance of higher education as it relates to a candidate's job prospects. But upon closer examination of the BLS job growth projections, perhaps we should not be that shocked at all. 

    The care aides kinds of jobs, the retail jobs, the food prep and serving jobs, the customer service reps, (all in the Top 10 list of 'growth' occupations), well none of these require (typically), much if any higher education and of course, also typically offer relatively lower wages than the kinds of jobs of the future we like to think about, (like coding apps, designing wearable computers, or working in high finance).

    Yep, according to the BLS anyway, job growth to 2022 is going to be mostly about low-skilled, low-wage, low prospects kinds of service jobs.

    Actually the easiest kinds of jobs for the robots to take.

    Happy Monday.


    CHART OF THE DAY: The Labor Force in 2022

    ...will be older, (relatively smaller), more non-white, and will certainly have more robot participation...

    First, here is the chart, courtesy of our friends at the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

    And below are the key findings from the aggregate data presented in the chart above, as well as in the details on gender, ethnicity, and sub-age group data (all found from the BLS in a piece titled "Labor force projections to 2022: the labor force participation rate continues to fall").

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the next 10 years will bring about an aging labor force that is growing slowly, a declining overall labor force participation rate, and more diversity in the racial and ethnic composition of the labor force.

    The labor force participation rate increased in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s and reached an all-time high during the 1997–2000 period. The rate declined during and after the 2001 recession before stabilizing from 2004 to 2008. The labor force participation rate fell in 2009 and continued to fall after the 2007–2009 recession ended. As the baby-boom generation ages and begins to retire, BLS projects that the overall labor force participation rate will continue to decline to 2022.

    During the 2012–2022 period, the growth of the labor force is anticipated to be due entirely to population growth, as the overall labor force participation rate is expected to decrease from 63.7 percent in 2012 to 61.6 percent in 2022.

    There is lots more in the details from the BLS piece, but I think you get the gist. And if you have been following this trend for any amount of time, you are probably not really surprised by the data.

    What is surprising, at least to me, is that whenever a new monthly employment report is released by the DOL that the talking heads on the business news continue to lament the low (and declining) labor participation rates, and speculate on the reasons why and the potential policies that could reverse this trend.

    If these 2022 projections from the BLS are accurate, or even close, I wonder if it makes more sense to quit trying to bring back the days of 2000 or so, and instead focus on what a smaller, more diverse, and older labor force means to our organizations and our economy.

    No fiscal program is going to turn back the clock for all the aging boomers. And hardly any feasible rise in the minimum wage is going to convince more 16 - 24 year olds that they would be better off working more and going to school less.

    The only age groups where participation is increasing are 55+.

    Keep that in mind this year as you are working on your 5 - 10 year business plans.

    Happy Wednesday.


    CHART OF THE DAY: On the Labor Force Participation Rate

    Lately whenever we get a new jobs report that shows the official unemployment rate continuing on its slow but steady decline (currently at 7%), we also have to consider the Labor Force Participation Rate, that is, the percentage of the working-age population that is either employed or is actively looking for work, and thus considered to be officially unemployed.

    As seen in the below chart, the Labor Force Participation Rate has declined to levels not seen in about 35 years or so, to about 63%. 

    Or said differently, the percent of people that are classified as actually being in the labor force, (either working or actively seeking work), has sunk to a level not seen since the late 1970s.

    Every time these figures are reported and repeated, there seems to be quite a bit of speculation around the causes of this decline. Just why are there relatively fewer participants in the labor force?

    Is it simply a matter of demographics as retirements of the first wave of baby boomers (now in their mid-to-late 60s) start to accelerate?

    Or are younger workers simply dropping out of the labor force due to the frustration of not being able to find work, either due to a simple lack of openings or having repeatedly failed to secure work in what is still an extremely competitive job market?

    The underlying reasons for this drop in participation do matter I think, as they can be used to more effectively create policies and programs to address them, (if that is needed), as well as for HR and talent pros that might need to understand these trends and include them as an input into their workforce planning process.

    Shigeru Fujita from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia recently published a research paper on the topic, titled On the Causes of Declines in the Labor Force Participation Rate, that attempts to break down the causes of these declines, and for anyone interested in the topic is well worth a read.

    In a nutshell, the paper concludes that about 65% of the decline in the Labor Force Participation Rate since year 2000, (roughly when the decline began), and 2013 are due to retirements and disabilities, both suggestive of the 'demographics' side of the declining labor force equation. Note that the 'retirement' portion of the decline only commences in about 2010, when the oldest boomers would be about 65 years old.

    Additionally, the paper also concludes that while there was a significant jump between 2007 and 2011 of 'discouraged' workers leaving the labor force, i.e. people that wanted to work, but simple gave up trying to find work, that all the declines seen in participation since 2012 are due to increased retirements and not increases in discouraged workers. These conclusions suggest that the lower labor force participation rate is really the new normal, at least for the short term.

    I know I am probably boring you to tears at this point, but I find this data, and the reasons driving the changes, really interesting. If you're organization is having a hard time finding the people you need for your opportunities, or has plans to grow or expand in any substantial way in the near future, then these macro labor force trends are worth considering.

    Once folks leave the labor force, it is really hard to get them to come back, whether they have retired, or have simply given up.

    Have a great week!