FlexJobs and Global Workplace Analytics co-authored a study on the state of telecommuting in the US, with the following key findings:
- 3.9 million U.S. employees, or 2.9 percent of the total U.S. workforce, work from home at least half of the time, up from 1.8 million in 2005 (a 115 percent increase since 2005).
- The average telecommuter is 46 years of age or older, has at least a bachelor’s degree, and earns a higher median salary than an in-office worker.
- Roughly the same population of women and men telecommute.
- Telecommuting is more common among employees over 35 years of age and most common among Baby Boomers.
- In more than half of the top U.S. metro areas telecommuting exceeds public transportation as the commute option of choice. It has grown far faster than any other commute mode.
Kathryn Vasel of CNN digs deeper into the study, which also identifies the industries, professions, and geographic areas in which telecommuting is most popular:
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The Associated Press highlights a new analysis confirming that millennials in the US today are worse off than their baby boomer parents were at the same stage of life a generation ago:
With a median household income of $40,581, millennials earn 20 percent less than boomers did at the same stage of life, despite being better educated, according to a new analysis of Federal Reserve data by the advocacy group Young Invincibles. The analysis being released Friday gives concrete details about a troubling generational divide that helps to explain much of the anxiety that defined the 2016 election. Millennials have half the net worth of boomers. Their home ownership rate is lower, while their student debt is drastically higher. …
The analysis of the Fed data shows the extent of the decline. It compared 25 to 34 year-olds in 2013, the most recent year available, to the same age group in 1989 after adjusting for inflation. Education does help boost incomes. But the median college-educated millennial with student debt is only earning slightly more than a baby boomer without a degree did in 1989. … The median net worth of millennials is $10,090, 56 percent less than it was for boomers.
Earlier this year, the National Bureau of Economic Research warned that the US’s aging population would put the brakes on the economy in the coming years as baby boomers retired en masse. Even though today’s Americans are planning to work later in life than previous generations did, a workforce that’s older and more reliant on service sector jobs will tend to be less productive, Talent Economy editor Lauren Dixon writes. However, there are some things employers can do to keep productivity up and mitigate the impact of retirements as the workforce ages:
1. Create benefits programs tailored to older workers.When examining benefits offerings, think about what would appeal to older and younger workers, and have a mixture that tailors each offering to the types of employees the company wants to attract and retain, [Willis Towers Watson senior economist Steve] Nyce said. Older workers often need to care for their aging parents, so flexible work arrangements are a valuable benefit to offer. Also, with stagnant wage growth and rising health care costs, benefits that help ease financial burdens will go a long way, Nyce added.
A new paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research offers a distressingly dismal forecast of the impact of an aging workforce on the American economy. Jeanna Smialek outlines the findings at Bloomberg:
The retirement of baby-boomers in the decade between 2010 and 2020 will lower GDP growth per capita by 1.2 percentage point a year from what would have been the case if the nation’s demographics had held steady, according to a National Bureau of Economic Research study out this week. The bright side is that the dent is only half as deep between 2020 and 2030 as the pace of aging slows.
The study is based on a simple idea: population aging is already long underway and has been playing out with varying degrees of intensity across different regions of the country. By looking at variations in state population aging, authors Nicole Maestas at Harvard Medical School, and Kathleen Mullen and David Powell at policy research group RAND Corporation, are able to estimate how a graying workforce affects output, participation rates and productivity.
Between the sheer size of the baby boomer generation and an increasing labor force participation rate among adults over 60, the median age of the American workforce is steadily increasing. Although boomers are staying in the workforce longer and retiring later, the oldest boomers are now in their 70s and, as Jeff Green at Bloomberg points out, some 10,000 are retiring each day and handing off the baton to their children’s generation: the millennials. Green stresses that this shift is hitting all employers, large and small, but well-established firms have the most at stake:
“Many large, older companies are caught up in a tsunami of baby boomers retiring and are unaware of how much tribal knowledge they are taking with them,” says Dorothy Leonard, professor emerita at Harvard Business School. … “In the next 10 to 15 years, we’re going to have the greatest transfer of knowledge that’s ever taken place,” says Chip Espinoza, director of organization psychology at Concordia University Irvine. An effective way to handle the shift, he says, is for a company to create relationships between the generations.
“It’s clearly an emerging area that everyone is dealing with,” says Mike Preston, Deloitte’s chief talent officer. Within a decade, maybe sooner, he says, there will be no boomers in Deloitte’s top management.
Business leaders wring their hands over whether millennials are ready to succeed their elders, and making sure their organizations hold onto that “tribal knowledge” is a big factor in their readiness: without a way of passing it on, the boomer retirements could drive productivity to a screeching halt. And of course, having been crowded out by boomers, millennials have few leadership experiences to draw on and are perceived as ill-equipped to take the reins. Green looks at how some large employers are handling the challenge, such as defense contractor BAE Systems: