Not Wanting To Work? The Media Ain’t Got This One Right

The news media appears to have found a new story line that jacks up their television ratings and the digital click rates as the media continues to scrape for a COVID-19 pandemic replacement.

The news story… “There is a widening gap of jobs to fill and folks no longer wanting to work because Washington is now giving them a lot of money not to work.”

The media is no longer sipping cocktails with Good Old Uncle Joe.

The media story has limited depth…

(1) The April U.S. employment numbers essential steady posting a slight decrease

(2) The unemployment numbers posted only a slight increase

(3) Additional Pandemic unemployment dollars are still being paid out

(4) Businesses are having difficulty fill job openings

In October, EXPERIENCE will celebrate moving into its 19th year of being in business.

The EXPERIENCE mission is to provide market insight and perspective to better craft and author growth strategy.

Is the news media reporting something that is correct?

No… its less fake news and more jumping to an incorrect conclusion without understanding the full perspective of what’s going on out there.

My intent here is not to lambast the media. Instead, it’s to pull our perspective out of Washington and get out into the world at-large.

This is a great example of drawing conclusions from inside the office walls… or should a call them the Zoom digital walls.

Here are the Change Agents at work…

CHANGE AGENT #1 — The Post-Millennial Population Gap

Just as Tidal Waves overflow… they also pull back and contract.

The Millennials are a Tidal Flow… the largest generational group in the U.S… even larger in size than their Baby Boomer parents.

Many folks think of Millennials as college students celebrating party time or camping out with friends connected to their smart phones sending Facebook messages to their friends.

Today, the vast majority of Millennials are now coupled … living in their first homes … and beginning to birth the new Alpha Generation.

And not all Millennials went to college… in fact, a higher percentage of Millennials did not and instead went straight into the workplace with jobs anchored in retail, restaurants, construction, manufacturing and transportation.

Individuals in their late teens to late-20s have served as the backbone of the American Workforce… male and female alike… those sporting trade skills and those sporting tech school degrees.

Today … not only are Millennials no longer occupying the age span of late teens to late-20s, the folks who do occupy it now are a combination of “Tweeners” filling the gap between Millennials and Zoomers and the first wave of the Zoomers… a raw count of about a third less people.

The number of warm bodies filling that age group not only have dropped… but the decline will continue and not hit rock bottom until a few years from now!

CHANGE AGENT #2 — Millennial Moms Staying at Home

This trend was beginning to surface even before the Pandemic.

Pew Research issued a report back in 2019 that cited 23% of Millennial women were not returning to work after birthing their first kid… a significantly higher number than the 17% of Gen X women who did not return to work back in the early 1990s.

This past September… September 2020… more women left the workforce than any other tracked month on record with nearly 85% of them in the age group 25–44.

And many of those women leaving the workforce were actually pregnant with a child.

A new, recently released Pew Research survey reports that another 38% of working Millennial women report that they “are not likely to stay working once they have their first child.”

The number of folks currently no longer in the U.S. labor force and not looking for work has increased by more than 25% since February of this year. And more than two-thirds of that group are women age 25–44.

And 40% of Millennial moms with school-age kids in the survey are planning to continue home schooling … albeit essentially a “one-room schoolhouse” co-shared with other neighborhood moms … even when all the schools reopen after the Pandemic.

They go on to talk about scaling back on their workloads to be able to also play the role of teacher.

No news reports that I am reading make any mention of this “mega-trend.”

CHANGE AGENT #3 — Boomers are Retiring

In 2020, more consumers (39 percent) anticipated retiring before age 65 than in any year since in 2010, with 18 percent of those saying they plan to retire by age 59, according to the research firm Hearts & Wallets.

The Baby Boomers have dominated the workplace up until the Millennials came applying for the same jobs.

The Pandemic has acted as a catalyst of retirement for many boomers.

Baby Boomers have been refueling and recrafting AARP as well as redefining just what “retirement” actually means.

As Boomers are now calling it time to retire, the need to fill those jobs increases. And what Uncle Joe and his buddies do in Congress has little influence on the Boomers finally turning off the morning alarm clocks.

CHANGE AGENT #4 — Market Shifts and an Aspiration to Do Better

A year ago, many of the news sources out there pondered as to whether or not dine-in restaurants and in-store retail shopping would ever return.

Many employers gambled and let folks go with a vision that the Internet would become their new store front and drive-thrus would replace their front door.

That was not a wise decision. Folks are flocking to restaurants to sit down at their tables… they are flocking to retail stores to touch and feel products too vs. clicking on pictures on Amazon.

And these were not just little “mom & pop” businesses.

Two months ago I wrote about a profound employment shift that was actually happening before us and we were way too COVID-19 focused to see it.

The shift involved the movement of hourly workers at restaurants and retail taking on salary jobs complete with benefits with employers like Amazon, FEDEX and UPS.

Whether we are focusing on a single mother challenged with raising a couple of pre-school age kids or new entry into the U.S. former resident from South of the Border or a guy that elected to go work a job vs. staying in high school… they all share an aspiration to do better.

And when better jobs become available and they can increase their salary, it isn’t surprising to see folks make a job shift and leave behind a position that many may not aspire to fill.

THE QUIRK — The Baby-making Invalid Comparative Assessment

Lastly, the news media is also pushing the results of a study that showcases a gap between the percentage of GenXers birthing their first kids and the Millennials birthing their first kids.

It is true… a higher percentage of GenXers had a first kid when they reach the median age of Millennials last year — 2020.

And yes… three-in-ten Millennials live with a spouse and child compared with 40% of GenXers at a comparable age.

BUT… more Millennial women are career-anchored and work outside-of-the home than the GenXer women back in the 1990s.

We also have to remember that GenXers were psychologically driven to have those babies and craft what they believed was the perfect family … two parents and two kids complete with a dog and cat plus swingset in the backyard.

I am not attempting to be a psycho-therapist.

But we always have to remember that the GenXer’s parents filed the highest percentage of divorce of any Generational group to-date in the U.S.

And the GenXers pledge that they were never going to do it to their own families that were showcased on the covers of Southern Living, House & Home and Parents Magazine back in the 1990s.

The Millennial stats might be different from those of the GenXers, but if you arrive at the same conclusion that Millennials will not be making babies… gives away quickly that you do not live in one of the subdivisions where the Millennial are moving out to in droves.

Nor have you turned on HGTV lately.

OKAY… NOW WHAT?

You have heard me over and over and over again tell you to get the heck out of the office and out into the marketplace at-large. If you think working from your home and interacting with folks on Zoom is getting out of the office, then listen to me again.

Get out of where you work and go take a ride out to the ‘burbs. Go into small town America. Chat with folks. Ask them what they see going on in their communities.

You will be surprised by what you will hear.

Just be brave enough to raise those observations in your next in-person or on-Zoom or mix of both brand leadership meeting!

Tell you what… if you want someone to join you… give me a call!

CEO & Discovery Chief at EXPERIENCE Insight Group, Inc. In the business to discover and craft brand experiences that humans seek out and engage in.