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How The Generation Born Today Will Shape The Future Of Work

Source | FastCompany

We hear a lot about millennials, gen Xers and baby boomers, but there are several generations interacting today.

Demographers typically segment the world population into six living generations: GI (born 1901—1926), mature/silents (born 1927—1945), baby boomers (born 1946—1964), generation X (born 1965—1980), generation Y/millennials (born 1981—2000), and generation Z (born after the middle to late 1990s).

Additionally, Australian demographer Mark McCrindle coined a seventh living generation: a post-Z “generation alpha,” representing those born after 2010 up through the coming years to 2025.

All the generations can expect to live longer lives. According to recent indicators from OECD, the average life expectancy in the U.S. is now 78.8 (up by about 10 years since the late 1950s and early 1960s). According to theSocial Security Administration, men who reach age 65 today can expect to live until age 84.3, and 65-year-old women can expect to live until 86.6.

Longer life spans mean that we will extend our work lives, but it also means that more people will draw from the social security government trust and from other social and economic resources. How will this affect our nation’s labor force in the relative near term? By looking at population and labor force statistics together with data about generational changes, we can get a sense of how the future of work might shake out over the next several decades.

MINORITY POPULATION GROWTH A KEY INDICATOR

Generation alpha, for instance, has already reached an important milestone that has numerous implications on future workforce development. In 2011—only their second year on the planet—they reached a first-time demographic milestone. There were more babies born in families of minorities than whites. Minorities currently have, and will continue to have, higher fertility rates than whites.

According to senior fellow in the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program William H. Frey, author of Diversity Explosion, “The percentage of white women who are in their childbearing years is declining and is smaller than the percentage of such women in other, ‘younger’ minority groups.

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