The Dark Side of the World of Work

October 7, 2012

As mentioned, I presented on workforce issues at Ohio Northern yesterday and as always it was a great time. However, the undertone of my insight has a bit of dark side.

We are in trouble as a nation, and this has nothing to do with current politics, taxes or international affairs.

Its about numbers, big and small. The numbers are demographics, and their effect will change the way communities, regions, states and the nation will operate. To illustrate, let me show you a graph, it’s worth a thousand words.

Look long and hard at this graph…and take it in.

We are in trouble.

First, lets look at one of the basic factors of economic development, that is a simple equation:

E (Economy) > P (Population)

Economic development is about growing your economy at a faster rate then your population. This definition helps us understand a few things:

1) If your economy is growing faster then your population there will be more revenue per person for reinvestment into the community.

2) If your economy is shrinking slower then your population, again, more revenue per person for reinvestment into the community.

The above scenario’s are a great thing as a community can use these extra funds to make things better for everyone, attracting more growth, etc…

Of course, the dark side should be now apparent, if the economy grows more slowly then the population for a long period of time, then the community has less dollars to serve. If you own a business, this means serving more with less, ultimately leading to closure.

So back to the graph, we will see a potential shortage of 20 million working in the next 5 to 10 years. What does this mean for a community?  Consider our definition of economic development…can the economy support the loss of workforce?

What this means is that some places, the places that can provide the necessary workforce, skill sets, and support to these businesses, will thrive. Those communities that cannot will, quite simply, disappear.

Are you scared yet?

Mind you, this is based on real numbers, not spin, not political discourse…but numbers.

There is good news…we CAN pull out of this situation. IF we realize sooner, then later, that serious change needs to occur, we can work together to make this situation better.

Let us start the conversation soon.

Eric

Ref: Lautman, Mark – When the Boomers Bail, 2011, Logan Square Press

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