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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA Job Market : PART ONE: JOB PROSPECTS : Work in the Year 2000 : U.S. labor force grows older, more diverse

May 17, 1987|HARRY BERNSTEIN | Times Staff Writer

America's world of work is changing dramatically.

More women, minorities and immigrants are entering the labor market. The work force is getting older. And the overwhelming majority of newly created jobs are in the service sector.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau, here's what we can expect by the year 2000:

Women, minorities and immigrants--who now make up 53% of the work force--will account for more than 80% of the new entrants into the labor pool. However, 75% of those who are now working will still be at it by the turn of the century.

More than 90% of all new jobs will be in the service sector, which includes financial institutions, retailing, transportation, hotels, education, computer services and professions such as medicine and law. Currently, the service sector accounts for 68.4 million jobs, or 70.8% of all employment.

Only 8% of the new jobs will be in manufacturing, and overall employment in that area will continue to shrink as the auto, steel and other basic industries decline. Less than 5% of the nation's work force will be on the assembly line, down from 29.2% today.

New jobs will be created at a slower rate, a trend expected to begin in the near future. Moreover, many of the new unskilled positions will pay wages that would keep a family of four close to the poverty level.

On the other hand, the nation's population and work force will be expanding at the slowest paces since the 1930s. The work force, which grew by 24.1% from 1970 to 1980, is expected to increase by just 12.4% in the last decade of this century.

There will be fewer young people (between the ages of 20 and 29). By 2000, there will be 34 million people in that age category, down from 41 million in 1980.

In contrast, the number of middle-aged Americans (between ages 35 and 47) will increase 38%, and the ranks of those from age 48 to 53 will soar 67%. Overall, the population will have grown less than 18% to 268 million over the last 20 years of this century.

These demographic changes will pose problems for America. For example, the declining number of young people will complicate matters for companies that want inexperienced, cheap labor.

That, in turn, may translate into lower pay for older workers. Experts say companies might not be able to continue bringing in enough new, younger workers at low salaries to balance the higher wages earned by more experienced employees.

Congress and the Reagan Administration are debating the role of government in helping America adjust to the demographic changes. Despite differences on how much tax money should be spent on job training, they agree that the effort needs to be stepped up.

The most ambitious proposals from people inside and outside of the public sector call for government to help workers by providing, among other things, jobs for those who cannot find work in the private sector, and providing child-care centers.

Underlying both the proposed programs and the old ones is a basic theme: Education, job training and retraining will be the essential ingredients of any successful transition from today's world of work to that of the year 2000.

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