2022 Trends: The Changing Face of America
There are five big picture topics I’m focused on this year – technology, supply chain, workforce, climate change, and the changing face of America. I’m sharing some of my candid thoughts and predictions for these five topics in a “2022 Trends” blog series. Today is the final post in this series – the changing face of America.
From 2020 to 2030, the population of the United States is projected to grow from 331 million to 350 million. There will be more of us, and we will continue to age. Today, there are 74 million people 18 years old and younger and 56 million people 65 years and older. By 2030, those numbers will shift, with 76 million people 18 years old and younger and a whopping 74 million now 65 and older. Up to half of today’s 5-year-olds in the United States will live to the age of 100. According to the Stanford Center on Longevity, this “may become the norm for newborns by 2050.”
America’s aging will bring the need to reevaluate what it means to grow old and examine workforce and healthcare policies. In 1950, the average lifespan was 47 years. Today, many aging baby boomers are expected to live well past 90.
So – what will we do with the time that we have? The Stanford Longevity Center has “The New Map of Life” initiative to explore this question. Would we, for example, consider going back to school at 50 and embrace a second career if we knew we had more time?
Speaking of careers, what does this mean for the workforce? Right now, workers over the age of 55 make up 25% of the workforce. Stereotypes may not serve older workers well, but the reality is that multiple studies have found they are skilled, experienced, less likely to call in sick, more likely to stay in jobs longer, and have a strong work ethic. In addition to making great employees, they also can play a critical role – in training the next generation.
People living longer means a greater need for healthcare – especially since research has found that while people are living longer, they’re also battling chronic illnesses. It’s estimated that we need to hire an additional 2.3 million healthcare workers by 2025 to care for our aging population. Unfortunately, research also shows that a shortage of skilled workers will leave many of those positions unfilled. In addition to having challenges in physically caring for our aging population, we have fewer workers financially supporting each retiree – while close to three workers support each retiree today, there will only be two by 2030.
What will the country look like racially in 2030? Whites will have dropped to 55.8% of the population, and Hispanics will have grown to 21.1%. The percentage of black and Asian Americans will also grow significantly. Between now and 2030, whites as a proportion of the population will get smaller, and other racial groups will all keep getting bigger. Eventually, whites will become a minority, dropping below 50% of the U.S. population in 2045. These demographic shifts currently profoundly impact our societal dialogue around inequity and how we care for vulnerable populations like our aging baby boomers.
Based on our employees’ voices, in 2021, Loretto launched diversity, equity, and inclusion dialogue sessions to be sure every voice is heard and valued. In 2022, we are training employees to speak up for themselves and for others when they are uncomfortable. We are also assessing and revamping our talent development program with an eye toward creating a broad pool of diverse candidates at every level of the organization.
If you’re looking for more on recruiting and retaining the workforce – I’ve written blog posts with insight into my philosophy of pragmatic altruism, keeping employees for 30+ years, and attracting (and retaining) employees.
Do you feel prepared for the changing face of your workforce? Are there plans in place to address generational and racial diversity? If yes, is there any room for improvement?