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    Entries in data (97)

    Monday
    May162016

    CHART OF THE DAY: More Americans are Working Longer

    I am a total mark for labor force data and today's Chart of the Day fits the bill perfectly. Check out the below chart on the Employment to Population ratio for Americans aged 65 and up over the last 50 years, and of course some FREE comments from me after the data

    (Chart courtesy of Bloomberg)

    Lots of interesting points we can tease out of this data, so let's go..

    1. Just under 19% of Americans age 65+ are currently in the workforce, according to the BLS. This is the highest percentage of working people in this age cohort since the early 1960s. 

    2. Why are folks in this age cohort working in greater numbers than before? The most commonly cited reason according to a recent study from Transamerica is that they need the income and benefits. The financial crisis, and the tech bubble that busted a few years before that, devastated many baby boomers' retirement savings accounts, and has forced them to work longer than they had originally planned.

    3. The next most commonly cited reason for 65+ folks to remain in the workforce is that, well, they like their jobs and want to remain a part of their organizations. You probably know, or maybe feel this way yourself, that traditional 'retirement' is not at all that appealing. From the same Transamerica survey, 36% of respondents indicated enjoying their work and wanting to stay involved in the workforce was a primary reason to delay or postpone traditional retirement.

    4. Finally, a couple of other trends are factoring in to help drive the employment ratio up for older workers. Some organizations need the experience and expertise of these workers, and would have a difficult time replacing them should they begin to retire in greater numbers. In certain, less exciting industries, these older workers remain essential to the organization, and are being incented to stay in the labor force. And one more thing - folks are just living longer and remaining more productive later in their careers than in the past.

    Add it all up and it seems that these trends suggest that more and more of the workforce will be comprised of older, 65+ workers. Business and HR leaders that want to take best advantage of this situation will make sure they are not ignoring older workers in their recruiting, are willing and able to make necessary adjustments and accommodations as needed, and are actively engaging their older workers in important projects and in mentoring their younger, less experienced workers.

    We are all getting older. It just seems like it is happening all at once.

    Have a great week!

    Tuesday
    Apr262016

    CHART OF THE DAY: Trends in Labor Force Participation

    It's been ages since I broke off a CHART OF THE DAY post and even longer since I talked about the Labor Force Participation Rate, so let's remedy both of these situations in one shot.

    Courtesy of your pals at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, have a look at a recently published chart on participation, this one broken down by gender. As always, some insightful comments from me after the data:

    Let's break down the data a little, and see if we might (Shock!) learn something. Some observations...

    1.  Male labor force participation has been on a long and steady decline for ages. In fact, males, as a group, have been less and less inclined to participate in the labor market since at least World War II.

    2. The female participation rate increased from about 43 percent in 1970 to a peak of 60 percent in the late 1990s, from which it has remained relatively flat over the last 15 - 20 years.

    3. But despite the economic recession of 2007 - 2008 ending, the data show that between 2010 and 2013, participation declined even more steeply for both men and women. Average female participation in 2014 was 57 percent—the lowest level since 1988—and male participation was down to a record low of 69 percent.

    What should we think about when considering this data? After all, participation is influenced by numerous factors like workforce age, prospects, disability rates, desire to continue schooling, etc.

    Let's look at what the Atlanta Fed thinks is the near-term direction for Labor Force Participation:

    "As a guide, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the factors pulling down the labor force participation rate will outweigh those pushing it up, and that by 2022, labor force participation will be 61.6 percent, 1.4 points below its level at the end of 2014."

    The trends and the predicted continuation of these trends suggest a labor market that is even tighter than we are experiencing currently. It seems also likely that the kinds of jobs that will be hardest to fill are not the ones that will be easily filled by simply coaxing more people back into the labor force. 

    If anything, a declining participation rate makes even seemingly 'easy' to fill jobs that much harder to fill.

    Long story short, this data suggests that filling all kinds of jobs is just going to get tougher. It's probably a good time to be a recruiter though.

    A good recruiter I mean.

    Thursday
    Mar242016

    We are pretty sure robots will take all the jobs - just not OUR job

    File this item under the 'We all hate Congress, but we keep re-electing our representative every two years' or 'the roads are full of idiot drivers but no one ever admits to being not such a great driver'. 

    Take a look at a couple of charts from a recent Pew Research Center survey of 2,001 American adults that attempted to gauge American's perceptions and opinions about the automation of work and jobs.

    From Pew Research:

    Let's crack open that nut a little, shall we?

    According to the survey, a large majority of Americans, 65%,  of expect that within 50 years robots and computers will “definitely” or “probably” do much of the work and take over the jobs that are currently occupied by us humans. Kind of makes sense, right? Even if you don't follow the 'robot' beat that closely you have probably at least heard some of the doom and gloom predictions about the upcoming robot takeover.

    But just like no one thinks they are a bad driver, when asked about their own jobs and the likelihood they would be replaced by robots and automation, the results were a little different. An even greater share (80%) expect that their own jobs will remain largely unchanged and exist in their current forms 50 years from now.

    So while 11% of the survey respondents are at least somewhat concerned that they might lose their jobs as a result of workforce automation, a larger number are occupied by more immediate and practical concerns – like being replaced by lower-paid human employees, broader economic and industry trends or bad management by their employers.

    What to take from this, especially as we think about our own careers? 

    Probably the big takeaway is to not be naive about the chances that technology and automation may have on our jobs, companies, and industries in the near to medium term. You can't let yourself fall into the trap of thinking 'Well, I can't be automated. What I do is too special, unique, complex....'. It's only the call center agents and factory workers that have to be concerned.' That's a gamble you might regret later on. 

    Someone, actually many someones are going to be automated out of work in the upcoming years. 

    Don't let it surprise you when the robot comes looking for you.

    Friday
    Mar182016

    CHART OF THE DAY: The End of Soda (or Pop, if that's how you roll)

    Quick shot for a busy Friday, today's chart is from our pals at Business Insider and shows what BI calls an 'epic' (I'd say it is more 'moderate') decline in per capita soda (or pop) consumption in the USA over the last 18 years.

    Here is the chart, and after that, as always, some FREE commentary from me after the data:

    The headline number is that per capita soft drink consumption has declined from a peak of 53 gallons in 1997 all the way down to 40 gallons in 2015. So just about a 25% decline. Still 41 gallons is a lot of soda, (observed as I down my second Diet Dr. Pepper of the day).

    Why is this important? I am note sure it is, but to me it is at least interesting.

    Could it be, at least by this one measure, the public is finally getting more concerned about the ill effects of the consumption of empty calories from sugary drinks? Or maybe the focus on employee wellness and well-being by lots and lots of organizations is having a positive impact on people's habits with respect to soft drink consumption? Perhaps it's a generational thing. Do 14 year olds like to drink Coke or Mt. Dew?

    Of could it be a simple lack of innovation by the soft drink makers themselves? After all, while we love and praise innovative companies, the second that Coke or Pepsi messes about with the formula or our favorite drink the backlash is immediate and the outrage is enormous.

    Who knows for sure? But as an observer of the world, I find it interesting for sure. Perhaps you do as well.

    Have a great weekend!

     

    Tuesday
    Mar012016

    CHART OF THE DAY: How large is the 'gig' economy?

    In my 'What HR should and should not be talking about in 2016' piece from early January I had the 'gig' economy listed as one topics that we collectively needed to stop talking and thinking so much about this year. By way of refresher (mostly for me), here is what I said in January about the 'gig' economy:

    "The 'Gig' Economy - Here's the thing about the rise in importance of the so-called 'Gig Economy', it is quite possible that its growth as a percentage of the labor force has been generally exaggerated possibly due to the oversized coverage that the largest Gig company, Uber, has received over the years. According to this Wall St. Journal piece from last July:

    Far from turning into a nation of gig workers, Americans are becoming slightly less likely to be self-employed, and less prone to hold multiple jobs. Official government data shows around 95% of those who report having jobs are accounted for on the formal payroll of U.S. employers, little changed from a decade ago.

    If Uber and its ilk were fundamentally undermining the relationship workers have with employers, that shift would be showing up in at least some of the key economic indicators. Hundreds of thousands of Americans, or even a few million, may have dabbled in the gig economy, but in the context of the 157 million-strong U.S. labor force, the trend remains marginal.

    It is possible that since there are likely more 'Gig' workers in coastal 'elite' cities like New York and San Francisco, and folks in these cities dominate the conversations in the media, that it just feels like the Gig economy is fast becoming the dominant form of work. But the data just doesn't reflect that, at least not yet. And it likely will not in 2016 or in 2018 or maybe even in 2020. So for now, it makes sense to think about your labor force composition, sure, (just like it always has), but massive, fundamental changes in that mix of labor is not typically top of mind for most organizations."

    So that was my take in January and two months later I have not really seen much if anything to make me think any differently about how important/influential the 'gig' economy really is to the vast majority of workers, organizations, and HR leaders. Today's CHART OF THE DAY courtesy of the JPMorgan Chase research folks seems to back that conclusion up.

    Taken from a three-year study of over 1 million JPMorgan Chase customers, the survey titled 'Paychecks, Paydays, and the Online Platform Economy' attempted (among other things) to get a better understanding over a three-year period just how important the 'gig' economy was/is in terms of worker participation levels and contribution to overall individual income. The entire report is interesting, but the chart I want to share is below, on the overall participation rates in 'gig' work. Here is the data, and the as you demand, some FREE comments from me:

    Apologies if some of the figures on the charts are a little tough to read, so I will just repeat the headline numbers - in Sept. 2015 the final month of the study, about 1% of individuals earned income from the 'gig' economy. In the second chart we see that in the 3-years of data up to Sept 2015, that about 4% of individuals had at any time earned income from the 'gig' economy.

    So 1% of JPM's surveyed customers were active on Uber, AirBnb, EBay ,and the like in Sept 2015 and 4% of people overall at some time earned some income from working (or selling things), on one of these platforms.

    While both figures represent significant growth in the reporting period, both were growing from incredibly small starting points. The truth is that the vast majority of people are not participating in these platforms and the ones that are, (another major section of the survey data), are using it as a supplement to more 'regular' forms of income, i.e. 'normal' jobs. Said differently, the chances are the only Uber drivers you have ever met are the ones that have driven you somewhere.

    To get back to my original point from January, while we read lots and lots about the 'gig' economy, its actual impact and influence on most worker's lives is not all that significant, at least not yet. If you are at all interested in this kind of data, I encourage you to check out the full JPMorgan Chase study here.