Reintegrating America’s Marginalized Workers

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Reintegrating America’s Marginalized Workers

Our January 2019 issue highlighted one of the most important themes ever identified in Trends: America’s Emerging Jobs Imperative.  The key finding was that a new guiding principle has emerged in American society and it is reshaping government policy and business realities.  That principle prioritizes ensuring that every American has an opportunity to participate in the value creation process via meaningful employment.  That means more than simply honoring “the New Deal social contract” of growing the economic pie and making sure everyone has “a big enough slice to survive.” It also means including every “able-bodied adult” in the rewarding process of creating value and taking care of themselves. 

At the time, we forecast the key policy decisions and challenges which will emerge as this trend advances.  As of the second quarter of 2019, progress was being made but big hurdles remained.  There were over a million more job openings than job seekers. As a result, wages, hours-worked and the labor force participation rate were all increasing.  However, the U6 unemployment rate is still 7.3% and there continue to be 47.5 million U.S. residents between 18 and 65 years-old who are not in the labor force. 

Let’s examine this situation in more detail and get a better idea of how this will impact workers, investors and managers as we advance into the Golden Age of the Fifth Techno-Economic Revolution.

After bottoming in 2015, the U.S. labor force participation rate has rebounded.  This is great news for those who were idle and reflects the improving health of the broader economy.  As we’ll see, the de facto labor shortage is already raising wages and encouraging companies to implement a new wave of technology.  And all of this will pay big dividends in the years immediately ahead. 

Consider the facts:

Just look at the chart in the printable issue mapping unemployment and job openings since 1998.  For two decades, there had been more available workers than available jobs.  But that changed last year

For over a year now, the number of open jobs each month has been higher than the number of people looking for work.  It’s the first time that’s happened since the Department of Labor began tracking job turnover two decades ago...

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