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Nothing Can Escape Old Man Time

Nothing can escape Old Man Time, and that includes the economy. Don’t get me wrong, the economy is doing pretty well. A recent report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics says that there continues to be more job openings than unemployed. Of course, It is understood that there are those that might not be included in those unemployment numbers; thus it can be taken with a grain of salt. Whatever the case, the jobs are out there, and generally this is a good thing. However, a factor that isn’t talked about a lot, and will most likely be a huge obstacle in the future, is that America, yes you America, is getting old.

I’m sure you have all heard about Japan’s aging workforce. It now seems it is America’s turn. Baby Boomers are retiring. Those that didn’t retire because of a weak economy and a flailing retirement fund, are now retiring at an increasing rate. Here’s a stat: a Baby Boomer retires every 9 seconds. Everyone deserves to retire, however in a growing population that continues to need goods and services, it becomes a problem. The Census Bureau projects that our needs for goods and services will be more than our workforce can produce from now to at least 2030. This is a different aspect of the labor crunch and it is expected to be a big factor in our nation’s production and growth.

Can technology make up for some of our lack in human labor down the road. Sure it can. However, this is where fiction and reality diverge. Gad Levanon, chief economist for North America at The Conference Board, believes we have already accomplished most of the “low-hanging fruit” with replacing human workers with technology. It’s going to be harder going from now on. For example, the trucking industry is already facing a shortage of 56,000 drivers, and that is expected to triple by 2026. Will Tesla’s self-driving truck be the answer? Maybe. But that is going to take a much longer time to make into a reality on a large scale. Until then, expect increasing shipping costs that are going to affect companies that depend on it.

In Execuforce’s world, and at a foundational level, none of this changes our philosophy in what we think is important in building a company’s workforce. It just reinforces how important it is that companies have a thoughtful and proactive approach to properly incentivizing and retaining their employees.

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