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    CHART OF THE DAY: Special #SHRM14 Handbag Edition

    The convergence was just too irresistible to fight: the week of the SHRM Annual Conference (where on Wednesday in the SHRM version of the 'Session Time of Death', Trish McFarlane and I will be presenting), I run across a story and chart about HR ladies' traditional favorite accessory maker, Coach.

    Turns out, times are getting a little tough for Coach - in the last couple of years it has seen it's sales growth evaporate, its stock price essentially miss the entire bull market, and the emergence of increased competition from companies like Michael Kors and Tory Burch.

    Today's chart, courtesy of Bloomberg Businessweek, shows the percentage change in same-store sales (a really important data point in retail), for Coach and its principal rival for the arms of HR ladies everywhere, Michael Kors.

    Pretty ugly if you are a fan of Coach, (or a stockholder). Kors has been killing it while Coach seems to be in the beginnings of their death spiral.

    Times are certainly changing, I guess - whatever allure Coach had for many years seems to be waning and companies like Kors and Tory Burch and Kate Spade are the new must-haves.

    What in fact do I know about any of these trends in women's fashion and accessories?

    Hardly anything. But I have owned and loved a series of Coach men's wallets over the years, so I suppose I should think about making a future replacement purchase as insurance - just in case in three years when my current wallet is about needing to be retired there will be no more Coach to speak of. The relationship a man has with his wallet is a pretty important one, second only to the one he has with his butcher I would think. So put me on the record as hoping Coach figures it out.

    If you are heading to SHRM, have fun - look around and see if you can spot this changing of the guard so to speak as you wander the halls and the Expo.

    Have a great week!


    CHART OF THE DAY: The slow-to-empty nest

    Super chart on the increasing percentage of young adults that remain living with their parents/families, (courtesy of Business Insider) that I wanted to share here on the blog, and then offer up a couple of comments/observations on the data.

    First the chart:

    Sort of makes sense, right? Probably from both an observational and anecdotal perspective - we all know some 27 year old slacker still living in the parent's basement - and from a macroeconomic one as well. The lingering effects of the recession has made it tougher for many young adults to find jobs that pay well enough to allow them to strike out on their own. Combined with the consistent rise in college attendance, (needed in order to even try and find one of those elusive jobs), we now have more and more "kids" still living at home than we did even a few years earlier.

    What might this trend mean for HR/Talent pros?

    I can think of one thing for sure - the willingness for younger workers to switch jobs for even small reasons - a minor bump up in compensation or a slightly better working location. When you are not encumbered having to cover your own monthly mortgage or rent, and just have to maybe toss Mom and Dad a few bucks every week to keep the fridge stocked with Mountain Dew, then you are not really tied down by much of anything, including your job.

    On the flip side though, that situation provides opportunity for HR and recruiters looking to poach those kinds of younger workers themselves. No house, no mortgage, no big set of monthly bills and trips to the Home Depot = someone more able to take off on short notice and take a new job, maybe even one in another state or country.

    Mom and Dad could be totally enabling these kids, and perhaps that is not a good thing, but then again, a generation of more flexible, mobile, and recruitable workers could mean good news for you as an HR/Talent pro.

    Have a great day! 


    CHART OF THE DAY: The U.S. Uninsured Rate

    With all the news and talk and debate about the ever evolving and complex set of requirements on organizations (and individuals) from the Affordable Care Act, it seems to me that one (fairly important) macro statistic often goes underreported, namely the percentage of people in the U.S. who still lack medical insurance.

    If you had to guess, (don't peek at the chart below), what would you guess the percentage of U.S. adults uninsured to be?

    It feels like it should be kind of high, right? Maybe 25% or 30%? 

    But you'd also guess that with the opening of the ACA exchanges late in 2013 and with all the news and attention surrounding getting folks to navigate the buggy Healthcare.gov website and actually getting them enrolled in Medical coverage, that the uninsured rate should be dropping I would bet.

    So what's the actual/estimated rate of uninsured adults in the U.S.? Check out the below chart from Gallup from their survey of 14,700 people in April 2014:

    So according to the Gallup survey, the uninsured rate among U.S. adults sits at 13.4% and does show a gradual decline since the launch of the ACA exchanges. When I first saw the chart and the 13.4% figure, I felt it was kind of low, I am not sure why. It just 'felt' like there would be more uninsured folks than that.

    The Gallup survey also breaks down this data into age/income groups, (click here for those details), but essentially they reflect what you'd expect - older, wealthier people are much less likely to be uninsured than younger and poorer people. But the trends in getting more people insured are improving across all age cohorts, which seems like a good thing.

    I suppose I don't have any big lesson/takeaway from all this, just thought it was interesting.

    Happy Thursday.


    CHART OF THE DAY: Is College Still a Good Investment?

    There are and will continue to be just enough incredibly successful people who did not either attend college at all or did not earn a degree to raise at least some doubt in many parents and students minds regarding the 'Is it still worth it to attend college?' question.

    While there is no disputing the achievements of people like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, maybe the guy who owns your local chain of car dealerships, who did not actually complete college, it seems these examples are more likely outliers, and that for most people/students, heading down (and completing) the path towards a college degree remains for the most part a sound personal economic strategy.

    Here's the chart. from the Federal Reserve of San Francisco, that I want to call your attention to that (Jobs and Gates aside), makes the 'college' case pretty strongly. It shows the earnings premium for college grads, and people with some college over people with just high school degrees.

    So the data is pretty clear, college has been and remains a pretty sound investment for most. 

    The research summary reads as follows:

    Earning a four-year college degree remains a worthwhile investment for the average student. Data from U.S. workers show that the benefits of college in terms of higher earnings far outweigh the costs of a degree, measured as tuition plus wages lost while attending school. The average college graduate paying annual tuition of about $20,000 can recoup the costs of schooling by age 40. After that, the difference between earnings continues such that the average college graduate earns over $800,000 more than the average high school graduate by retirement age.

    There are a couple of caveats here - one is that the researchers used about $20,000 as an estimate for annual costs of college - as most parents know this could be really, really low especially for private or 'prestige' schools. And the data is not terribly recent, tapping out in about 2011 or so, not taking into account the latest wave of teenage App Store millionaires.

    Sure college still probably isn't for everyone. But if you are a student or you are the parent of a student getting ready to face this decision you'd be wise to keep this research in mind. 

    Have a great day!


    CHART OF THE DAY: Find your job on the When Will Robots Replace You Chart

    You know the robots are coming for all of our jobs, right?

    The question is not 'if' but 'when'. Sure, it will take some time, and I suppose there will always be some jobs that will, at least for the near term, always be the exclusive domain of humans, but lots of really smart people are predicting and anticipating a future where robots/automation do many of the jobs that people do today.

    In fact a recently published paper from researchers at the University of Oxford has attempted to quantify the amount of jobs that are likely or most susceptible to being eliminated and replaced with some kind of automation.  Check the chart below for a graphical look at the kinds or types of jobs that the researchers have concluded are the most likely to be automated away:


    The main finding that you can see in the chart data above: 47% of total US employment is at high risk of getting replaced by a robots, "meaning that associated occupations are potentially automatable over some unspecified number of years, perhaps a decade or two."

    So the takeaway, or advice for you, or more likely for your kids is you probably want to think about focusing your efforts on the kinds of jobs that skew more to the far left on the above chart. Finance, arts, science, engineering - these all seem like the types of vocations that at least in the near term are probably going to remain the domain of puny humans.

    And if you or someone you care about is working a job that falls more towards the right side of the chart - jobs like office and admin support, retail, or customer service/support, then you'd be well served to start figuring out how you can make some changes, and fast. 

    How long before the robots really come for these jobs?

    My guess it will take a little longer to actually start happening than most predictions suggest, but once it does start happening, the takeover will proceed much, much faster than we think.

    Happy Thursday.