With an unemployment rate of just 4.9% in the United States as of February 2016, a closer look at the workforce demographics which exist today. Who makes up the modern workforce? And what are their preferences?
For the first time, there are more Millennials in the workforce today than Baby Boomers or Generation Xers, with 53.5 million workers.
Although Generation X surpassed Baby Boomers in 2011, Millennials have overtaken them much more quickly. Yet even that fact may not be the most astonishing. 2% of the current workforce is made up of the Silents, or the generation after that known as the Greatest Generation, while just 1% of the workforce is made up of post-Millennials.
What Are the Characteristics Of the Modern Workforce?
- The average Millennial in the current workforce carries a student debt of $30,000. The generation as a whole has more than $1 trillion in student debt.
- The level of home ownership for the 18-to-34 age group has declined from 43 percent in 2005 to 37 percent in 2013.
- 59% of Millennials said they would be comfortable sharing their workspace with someone else. This is compared to only 46% of Gen Xers.
- 63% of Millennials say that they are comfortable working on a mobile device.
- 2 out of 3 Millennials believe that face-to-face meetings are important, which is the highest percentage of workers than any other generation.
- 90% of people age 15 to 24 live in developing regions where there is a scarcity of good, stable jobs.
- Millennials are 3x more likely to be unemployed than any other generation despite the fact that by 2020, they are expected to comprise half of the global workforce.
- There are currently 73 million people age 18 to 34 in the United States.
- 33% of the current workforce is comprised of Millennials.
- 43.2% of women who are part of the Baby Boomer generation held management, professional, and related positions. This is higher than men, who are at 42.6%.
- 1 in 4 Millennials in the US speaks a language other than English at home.
As Millennials begin to take over the workforce, the workforce is becoming much more diversified. In 2013, the number of workers between the ages of 18-34 that were foreign-born in the US increased by 150% from population data gathered in 1980. This means more people are going to be speaking more languages and English might not be the first language. The workforce will become more of a global phenomenon because of this, yet by 2060, it will also mean that the overall workforce population will decrease by at least 5% through automation, technology upgrades, and population changes.
The Immediate Influence of the Millennials
- 13% of managers in the current workforce are Millennials. An additional 5% are senior managers and 2% are executives.
- In the next 10 years, 15% of Millennials say that they want to be able to own their own business.
- 38% of the non-managerial workforce is already being managed by Millennials.
- 52% of those younger than Generation X state that the most desired trait they’d like to see in a manager is someone who is honest.
- 50% of companies with current job openings say that they can’t find qualified candidates to fill them. This may be because of educational structural issues – just 2% of employers, for example, are recruiting workers with a liberal arts degree.
- 2.8 million more workers are working full-time in 2015 compared to 2014 data.
Millennials are already the majority generation in the modern workplace. In the next decade, their influence is going to continue to rise as more work their way into management positions. Yet Millennials face a unique problem: they aren’t necessarily trained for the jobs that will be available to them. This will lead to older workers staying in the workforce longer because employers will have no other option but to cater to them. It may also explain why there are certain challenges being seen in the workforce today that do not currently have solutions.
The Problems in the Modern Workforce
- 86% of current employees state that they are already looking for a new job outside of their current occupation.
- 1 in 3 employers say that they expect the employees that are being hired today to “job hop,” or look for competitive employment elsewhere while they are working full-time.
- 83% of unemployed or underemployed workers are using a smartphone to search for job openings, but only 1 in 5 Fortune 500 companies has a job application process that is mobile friendly.
- The percentage of active employees who completed their job application on a mobile device: 45%.
- 58% of workers today say that they are more likely to want to work for a company that is active on social media. Another 20% say that they are more likely to stay loyal to a company that is active on social media.
- In the current workforce, 65% of employees plan to continue working into their retirement years in order to pay for their retirement.
- There is still a pay gap in the modern workforce, even for Millennial women. Millennial women make 93 cents for every $1 Millennial men make for the same job.
- The weighted average poverty threshold for a family of four is just over $24,000.
- The household poverty rate for blacks/African-Americans and Hispanics is 2.5x higher than it is for whites/Caucasians.
- 20% of American children live in poverty right now.
The workforce is being forced into an evolutionary cycle, but unfortunately not all of the workers or their employers are ready for it. This is why many older workers are being held onto because there is a need to transfer their knowledge to the younger workers. Universities aren’t necessarily educating students in vocational areas that are needed, which further forces the hand of employers. Since training costs for new employees are about 50% of the salary of that worker, there is a lot at stake for everyone. Yet innovation is also changing the way people think about being part of the workforce as well.
The Rise of the Freelancer Demographic
- 53 million Americans describe themselves as a “freelancer” working either part-time or full-time to earn money.
- 69% of freelancers say that technology has made it easier for them to find work and this percentage continues to increase as technology continues to develop.
- 1 in 3 Americans is working as a freelancer in some capacity right now.
- 32% of freelancers say that they have seen an increase in demand for their services compared to 15% who say that they’ve seen a decrease in demand.
- 65% of freelancers say that they see their work as a career path that has more respect today than ever before.
- 80% of people who are working with a traditional employer say that they would consider freelancing as a way to earn extra money.
- The percentage of freelancers who say that they would like to quit their primary job and work independently on their own: 36%.
- The number of businesses who are hiring freelancers has increased by 46%.
The rise of the freelance economy has been rapid. Thanks to websites like Elance, oDesk, and Fiverr, many of the barriers that freelancers have had to create their own opportunities have been reduced or completely eliminated. This has allowed many people to take advantage of their natural talents or transition into a work-at-home environment where they can still be part of the workforce, yet be able to set some of their own rules.
Eliminating the Disruption of Changing Workforce Demographics
- The median age of the American workforce is currently 41.
- The number of women between the ages of 55 and 64 in the workforce has increased 10% over the last 10 years.
- At least 1 in 4 families today provides care for an older adult while trying to juggle their career responsibilities and spend about $5,500 per year on caregiving responsibilities.
- Employers have reported up to a 30% increase in elder care services as a benefit since 2006.
- Nearly 1 in 5 current “junior” workers in the workforce are employees that are over 50 years old.
- Real median household income in 2014 was $51,939, which is actually 8% lower than in 2007, which was the year before the most recent recession. The peak of US income actually occurred in 1999.
- Caucasians have seen a 1.7% decline in their HHI, while all other racial/ethnic demographics so no meaningful difference.
Some employers have 5 different generations working for them in the same workforce. This requires them to take a multi-generational approach because what works for the younger generation will not necessarily work for the older workers. The health of older workers must also be addressed as what a worker may consider to be private information, an employer may consider to be critical information because good health equates to better productivity. Now is the time when the legacy of the workforce for future generations is going to be created. By understanding the workforce demographics today, tomorrow can become a brighter future.