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It is better
to not be on
the web than
to be on and
not know why

John Sumser

is more
it seems.
John Gall


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The Problem
August 27, 2002) - For employees, the first decade of the 21st century will be a time of unparalleled opportunity. On average, there will be 2.6 new jobs created for each new person, who enters the American labor market. The competition to acquire new employees and retain existing personnel will reach dimensions that are unthinkable in today's environment. By the end of this decade, the overall labor shortage, measured in unfilled jobs, will be 21.3 percent, according to the Federal Government[1]. Their statistics on the subject are usually very conservative (lower than the reality).

Driven by declining birthrates, the aging of the population, baby-boom retirements, and increasingly, a squeeze in the supply of foreign workers, the United States is hardly alone. Most of the top 50 industrialized countries face the same demographic issues. German population, for instance, will decrease nearly 20 percent by 2010. The good news for American companies is that domestic population growth has slowed, not stopped. The bad news is that there is enough demographic pressure to destroy opportunities for corporate growth. Within 3 years, the pressure will be strong enough to raise the risks associated with new strategic initiatives for most companies.

Surprisingly, white collar, college educated workers will not be the category with the greatest shortages (although 1.5 out of 10 of those desks will be empty). Lower level service and production jobs that require little formal education, but a degree of On-The-Job-Training (OJT) will be harder to fill, sooner. This implies that the first wave of impact will involve watching professional and managerial employees cleaning their own offices and doing the landscaping after they have finished helping load the trucks.

The shortages will manifest themselves differently by region. Areas with currently low unemployment like College Station, Texas, (1.9%) will find themselves in difficult circumstances sooner rather than later.

Approximately 20 percent of the country lives in Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) with unemployment below 4 percent[1]. The tiniest bits of growth will create hypercompetitive local labor markets in these areas.

[1] Bureau of Labor Statistics; Civilian labor force and unemployment by state and metropolitan area; http://www.bls.gov/news.release/metro.t01.htm

 -John Sumser


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