The Future of Work
As the generational composition of the workforce changes, the workplace as we know it will change along with it.
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What will the jobs of the future in the U.S. be like? According to a series of articles in "Time" magazine, there may not be cubicles and receptionists, jobs will migrate to Florida, Texas and Arizona and US manufacturing will rise — but we won’t be making cars, we’ll be making higher tech devices like heart valves.
There is a generational divide between the Gen Ys entering the workforce, wanting more flexibility than their parents ever had; members of Generation X, born from 1965-1978, are about to be in charge, and Baby Boomers. Many of the Boomers can't retire because they didn't save as they should have and their retirement plans are bust. This is a particular problem, says Stephen Gandel, a senior writer at "Time" magazine, because retirement waves are important to smooth out recessions.
"It wasn't exactly meant for this reason, but when they put in Social Security, it helped us get through the Great Depression because people were willing to leave the workforce. So, those kind of forced retirements, or eased retirements, helps get people out, it creates more seats in the workplace, but also it doesn't remove that income when the person retires. They are still guarnateed a certain amount of income so they can continue to be a consumer. When that process doesn't happen, it can make downturns worse."
Gandel writes in "Time" magazine that some economist think the unemployment rate will pass 10% for the first time in decades in part because this retirement cycle has been disrupted and younger people aren't going to be able to get in. Gandel also states that companies are coming up with clever ways to get around this. For instance, Boomers sharing jobs.
"In the short term, this is going to be a bad thing -- it is going to produce more unemployment. But, in the long term, this could be a good thing, because companies are going to have more choices. They are going to have a more diverse workforce, and they are going to have this mix of experienced workers along with younger workers who may be more willing to more things that someone later in their career won't want to do. So, we see a lot of positives here.
The other thing we learn when we talk to economists is that the economy is not stagnant; it is elastic. If there are more people that want to work, the economy tends to accomodate that, and, when more people work, there are more people who can spend. That generates more economic activity and that generates more jobs.
"The example we found of this was that when women entered the workforce for the first time, this is a new cohort, they were in the workforce but they entered in the 60s and 70s in more numbers, and we didn't see long term unemployment go up. We saw it actually hit new lows. That just shows how the economy can absorb this."
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