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Labor Day is our country’s opportunity to honor those who make a profound contribution to our economy, our communities and our nation. At DCR, we recognize that the work of every person is built on the work of another. Work connects us all. For that reason, before our celebrations start, we ask you to pause for a second and ask yourself, “Who is the American Worker? The answer may surprise you!
Today’s Workforce Spans Five Generations:
Recent economic conditions and concerns about health coverage have caused many older workers to remain employed past traditional retirement age. The average retirement age for men in 2013 was 63.9. For women, the average retirement age was younger, at 61.9. This has remained constant for about a decade. However, in CareerBuilder’s annual retirement survey 54% of senior workers (age 60+) say they’ll work after retiring from their current career — up from 45% last year. Of this group, 81% say they’ll most likely work part-time, while 19% plan to continue working full-time.
As a result, today’s workforce is fairly evenly divided between millennials (aged 18-33), Gen Xers (aged 34-54), and Baby Boomers (aged 55+).
Diversity in the Workplace:
America has always been a nation of immigrant workers. In 2014, foreign-born workers represented 16.5 percent of the U.S. labor force, up from 14.8 percent in 2005.
While number of white workers today is nearly 5 times that of Hispanic workers, 13 times greater than Asian workers, and represents 640% of African American workers today, this balance is shifting.
From 1980 to 2020, the white working-age population is projected to decline from 82% to 63%. During the same period, the minority portion of the workforce is projected to double (from 18% to 37%), and the Hispanic/Latino portion is projected to almost triple (from 6% to 17%). This demographic shift is caused by a larger numbers of younger Americans (ages 0 to 44) from ethnic minorities, and an increasing numbers of white workers who are reaching retirement age.
Women are More Prominent, but are They Gaining Ground?
In December 2014, there were over 73 million working women in the U.S. Women are just under half of the general workforce (47 percent), an increase from 38% in 1972.
Women represent a majority of those in professional and technical occupations (51 percent). However, uneven representation across occupations and industries persists. While less than 10 percent of electrical and electronics engineers and computer network architects were women in 2013, more than 90 percent of speech and language pathologists and kindergarten teachers were women. In other occupations, such as biological scientists and artists, representation of men and women was closer to equal. In 2013, women were less than 40 percent of those in management occupations.
Despite the rising importance of mothers’ earnings to family income, women in the U.S. are still paid on average only 77 cents for every dollar a man makes.
Work hours are not restricted to 40 anymore. Americans work longer than nearly every other country. In the U.S., 85.8 percent of males and 66.5 percent of females work more than 40 hours per week. Americans work 137 more hours per year than Japanese workers, 260 more hours per year than British workers, and 499 more hours per year than French workers.
Work is Performed Differently:
Technology continues to redefine how work is conducted. Workers are embracing their ability to work from anywhere, as long as they have connectivity; with 30 million working from home occasionally and 3 million working only from home. Workers can be around the corner, or around the globe. The Bureau of Labor Statistics tells us that 2.8 million workers are currently employed in temporary or contract positions. U.S. staffing agencies employ more than 3 million temps each week.
The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same:
What impact does all of this have on worker satisfaction, engagement and productivity? A recently released Gallup poll indicates that American worker satisfaction has vastly improved over the past decade, although the relative level of satisfaction in each category (i.e., areas of greatest and least satisfaction) have remained constant. Highest levels of satisfaction are found in relations with co-workers (72% in 2015) and the physical safety conditions of their workplace (70%). Smaller numbers of workers report being “completely satisfied” with the flexibility of their hours (58%), the amount of vacation time they receive (57%), their job security (57%), their boss or immediate supervisor (54%) and the amount of work that is required of them (53%).
Areas where workers are least likely to say they are completely satisfied are recognition for their accomplishments (45%), health insurance benefits their employer offers (40%), retirement plan offered (35%), promotion opportunities (35%), salary (33%), and stress levels (28%).
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