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Labor Shortage 1
(August 14, 2007) First of all, it's always been really hard to get "good help." If you are hiring in the up part of a business cycle, it always seems like there is a shortage. Conversely, it the down cycle employees seem plentiful. "Good help", however, is always scarce.
All of the talk about a more generic labor shortage (one that transcends the vagaries of the business cycle began in the early 1990s. It was clear then, as it is now, that the rapid population growth of the 20th century was coming to a close. The U.S. population more than tripled during the 20th century - a growth rate of about 1.3 percent a year - from about 76 million in 1900 to 281 million in 2000. (This is unlike most European countries, especially Germany, Russia, Italy and Greece, whose population growth are slowly declining.) .
Meanwhile, the population of the planet grew from 1 Billion to 6 Billion in slightly under 200 years.
It took 10,000 years to get to the first Billion and 200 to add the next 5. Growth was staggering during the 20th Century. It set very unreasonable expectations about the way things work economically. Much of the talk about labor shortages is a way of saying that the population structure that lies beneath economic growth is changing rapidly.
These days, World Population Growth rates are steadily declining. It is reasonably clear that by mid century, the population of the plane will stabilize at about 9 Billion people. Growth remains high in the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa but in all other areas, it is rapidly approaching Zero. Even the places with high growth have downward trends.
Most of the discussion about labor shortages simply compares population growth with economic growth. These forecasts assume (and this is a huge assumption) that there is a correlation between growth in the number of workers and growth in the economy. In order to achieve X growth, you'll need Y workers.
So, the people who are worried about labor shortages are the ones who want the most economic growth.
As mentioned above, Europe (and all of the top 50 industrialized countries) is suffering population decline. They lose workers and their populations are shrinking. As immigrants are attracted into these once vital economies, real demographic change starts to happen.. - .Send To a Friend
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