With the unemployment rate never higher than 4% for any month, 2019 proved a banner year for job seekers. And though economists warn of a possible economic downturn within the next two years, American employers at the moment are scrambling to fill the 7.4 million open jobs.
What does the vibrant U.S. workforce currently look like, and what may lie ahead as the calendar turns to not just a new year, but also a new decade? Here’s a peek at 2020 workplace trends.
Workplace Demographics in 2020
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), around 158.48 million people were employed in the U.S. civilian labor force in September 2019. Broken down by notable categories, this number translates into the following:
- 83.86 million men
- 74.61 million women
Highest Educational Attainment:
- 9.5 million with less than a high school diploma
- 35 million with a high school diploma or the equivalent
- 36.4 million with some college or an associate’s degree
- 57.9 million with a bachelor’s degree or higher
- 4.9 million age 16-19
- 14.2 million age 20-24
- 36.1 million age 25-34
- 33.6 million age 35-44
- 31.9 million age 45-54
- 27.2 million age 55-64
- 10.5 million age 65+
Age-wise, the current workforce is the most heterogeneous in history. Using common generational dividers, today’s workplace consists of traditionalists (born between roughly 1927-1945), baby boomers (1946-64), Generation X (1965-79), millennials (1980-94), and Generation Z (1995-2015).
Though each group contributes to company dynamics, experts expect the largest generation in the workforce—millennials—to exert the greatest influence. Their demand for the latest and greatest technology will push employers to stay current, and their desire for meaningful work will get organizations thinking about purpose and contribution to society.
And the fondness of millennials for flexible work arrangements will continue to craft a new perception of a “standard” workday.
Remote Work in 2020
Remote work will continue to grow as a workplace trend in 2020. Two-thirds of all companies currently have remote workers, and 4.7 million people work from home, which is a 159% increase since 2005. Telecommuting clearly has evolved beyond the “perk” stage into a global phenomenon, and the 2020s will see organizations focusing on issues related to this development, such as well-crafted work-from-home policies and better security for shared information.
Employers and workers also will need to examine the psychological/social impact of remote work. For instance, at the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) 2019 Annual Conference & Exposition, addressing the loneliness of remote workers was discussed as one of the top 10 trends impacting HR departments.
For non-remote workers, the average daily one-way commute stands at 26.1 minutes. And while telecommuting gained in popularity during the 2010s, so did its polar opposite. Roughly 4 million workers extreme commute, defined as traveling 90 minutes or more each way to work.
A look at the BLS’s list of the fastest-growing occupations supports the notion of increased demand for healthcare workers as baby boomers continue to age. Jobs with especially promising projections include home health aides, personal care aides, occupational therapy assistants, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners.
Other fields poised to increase substantially in the next decade include renewable energy and computers/mathematics (especially in the areas of information security and statistics).
The BLS projects declining employment in sales occupations due to the popularity of online purchases. Office and administrative support positions also may decline due to advancements in technology and automation.
If unemployment rates remain low, employers likely will continue to increase benefits in 2020 as a way to attract and retain talent. In addition to standards such as health insurance, expect companies to consider in-demand employee benefits such as:
- Student debt repayment
- Financial wellness programs
- Family planning
- Transportation reimbursement
- Paid medical and family leave
- Pet insurance and “paw-ternity” leave
Obviously, technology isn’t just a workplace trend in 2020, as it will remain a significant part of most modern organizations. But virtual meetings and communication platforms will keep team members connected regardless of location, and employers will continue to seek innovative ways to maximize the capability of technology.
SHRM has identified developing the relationship between workers and robots as a priority for human resource departments. IT and HR may work together more than ever in the next decade to manage the human/machine experience.
Likewise, job seekers able to promote their “learnability” should be in high demand. With the business world changing so rapidly, employers value candidates who accept the need to be life-long learners capable of making adjustments and developing new skills.
Getting Ahead of Workplace Trends in 2020
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Tags: jobs and career news
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