We all want to know what’s in store for us: where will we be, what will we do, or will we be happy ten, twenty, or thirty years from now. Our personal foothold in the future, though, largely depends on the changes in the political, economic, and demographic setup of the country and the world as a whole. One of the essential factors that determine the well-being of people in any nation is the employment perspective. In this post, we are going to predict the future of workforce in America based on the The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projections and forecasts made by other organizations and individuals.
According to the BLS predictions, the overall size of workforce is expected to increase to 186 million by 2060 (compare: 157 million in 2015). Women are going to become important players in many sectors of the economy. The BLS projects that the share of females in the workforce will grow to 47.2% by 2024, while in 2014 this value amounted to 46.8%. At the same time, the participation rate of men is projected to decrease in the coming years.
2. Older Employees
Another trend in the shaping of future workforce is the increase in the number of older employees. The share of those from 16 to 24 years old, according to the BLS projections, is going to diminish by the year 2060. The number of people who have reached the age of 55 years and above, on the opposite, is expected to grow. The main reason for that is the aging of baby boomers, that is people who were born between 1946 and 1964. Those form a large portion of population not only in the USA (around 20%), but also in many other countries that belong to the developed world. This situation will change only when baby boomers finally retire and drop out of the workforce.
3. Fewer Workers of Non-Hispanic Origin
The future workforce is projected to become more diverse as an increased number of immigrants, especially from Latin American countries, come to live in the United States. The higher birth rate among Hispanics contribute to the greater labor force participation among them. The BLS expects the share of white non-Hispanic workers to decrease in the long-term perspective. To illustrate this issue, it recently became known that the firefighting department in Dunkirk, New York, was looking for Spanish-speaking applicants because of a problem they faced while rescuing a local resident who didn’t know a word of English.
4. Greater Shift Towards the Service Economy
The changes in the American economy that have taken place since the 1970’s have led to the significant decrease in the number of workers in the manufacturing sphere. While in 1970 the share of those employed in the American goods-producing industries was 33% percent, it fell to just around 13% in 2014. At the same time the number of people who provide services in the USA has increased significantly to 17.4 percent of the total workforce. The BLS expects 9.3 million new jobs to appear in service providing industries, while the manufacturing domain will lose 814,000 jobs.
5. Growth in STEM, IT, and Healthcare Jobs
When it comes to specific sectors of the economy, the BLS predicts a considerable increase in computer and mathematical occupations: 531,400 more jobs by the year 2024. The share of software developers in the workforce will increase by almost 20 percent by 2024. There will be more people doing STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) jobs: 16 percent in 2024 (a one percent increase in relation to 2014). The healthcare industry will experience a boom: 20 percent more occupations by 2024. That’s explained by the growing number of older people in the population, who require healthcare services more often.
6. More Freelancers
According to some data, in 2016 the number of people who work from home amounted to over 43% of the American workforce (63 million people). Many of them are freelancers or individual contractors, doing “gig” or on-demand jobs. Some analysts are certain that this trend is going to continue and in ten years’ time the share of freelance workers will increase to 50 percent. This is a huge figure, and even big corporations and organizations like IBM and NASA have started to involve freelancers in their projects. Therefore, the role of such online platforms as freelancer.com, hirerush.com, or upwork.com where employers and service providers can meet for cooperation will become even more prominent in the near future. The army of freelancers and individual contractors will grow even though they have no social benefits such as sick leave that nine-to-five workers are entitled for.
Not all predictions come true. Still, we have every reason to believe that the projections for the future of the American workforce will. In 20 and more years from now, it will become more diverse, mature, more female-dominated, and with a greater emphasis on providing services from anywhere around the country.