Inspiring workers: wages and labor participation
There’s a lingering question in the US around unemployment, and many wonder how long we can have both a shortage of workers and a relatively high unemployment rate. In the US, we peaked at 158.7mm workers in February 2020, just before the onset of COVID. Today we are back to the 155.1mm US worker level, just a few million short of the all-time high.
In the US, our working-age population has started to decline. You can see the chart of total working-age US citizens here. The recent Census showed the US population grew by just 392k people in 2020, the lowest since the start of the Census in 1900. The only real attractive way to grow the US working population meaningfully is to introduce pro-immigration laws. Some have gone so far as to suggest we should pay a bonus to young international talent to join the US workforce.
Aside from all of the data, there is a general sense out there that workers are unhappy with their employment options. It took a pandemic to make it abundantly clear that employees prefer the flexibility gained from a work-from-home arrangement. This begs the question, what else besides work from home flexibility would inspire employees?
SAP uses an IBM-inspired Social Sabbatical program to retain talent. Through this program, SAP employees leave their regular 9-5 schedule to work at an NGO for four weeks, and this helps add to the sense of employee purpose.
Some workers are retiring earlier than anticipated due to stock market and real estate gains leaving a skills gap in certain sectors where the talent pool is not very deep in the first place. A raise is nice, but money is not the sole motivator. This presents an opportunity for employers. If we are going to close the unemployment gap in the US and retain workers, employers should consider how they can inspire workers through programs like SAP’s Social Sabbatical. These employment trends and the benefits and drawbacks of artificial intelligence will have a big impact on economic growth in the coming decade.
Giving and Gratitude
Despite the challenges presented by COVID, Americans donated a total of $471 Billion in 2020, 5% more than in 2019. 2021 is on pace to break the record as well.
As year-end approaches, now is a great time to review your giving for the past year and consider your options through the end of 2021 and beyond. This is something we can help with. Gratitude is an empowering and satisfying emotion that deserves consideration throughout the year. While there are tax benefits to consider, none are nearly as valuable as the feeling of helping others achieve their goals and advance the public good.
We give thanks to all of the people we work with and to all of the families we work for. We wish you all an abundant sense of comfort, security and freedom as you spend this holiday together.
– Max, John, Shruti and Angela