Mary Young at the Conference Board sent this one over to me this week…research indicating future labor shortages is back, just as aging workforce press is back! (of course these things are very closely related). In strategic workforce planning circles these issues have sometimes seemed like the Y2K crisis to business leadership, but they are still serious workforce macro trends to be considered.

NortheAstern University has published a report titled “After the Recovery: Help Needed; The Coming Labor Shortage and How People in Encore Careers Can Help Solve It”, which concludes that significant increases in participation rates are needed if the US is to have enough workers by 2018:


According to the report, projected labor force participation rates to 2018 are ok for workers up to age 54, but beyond that we need to increase them by as much as ten percentage points, and increase the overall participation in the labor force from the currently projected 64.5% (down from 66% today), to a total of 66.1 to fill the employment gap - and a staggering 70.4% to fill what they call the “output gap”, which presumes older workers are less productive (hey, not my words, mom and dad, I know the truth).

For reference, according to a 2010 chartbook from the BLS, the two countries with the highest participation rates for ages 55-64 are New Zealand and Sweden – and in ages 65+ are Korea and Mexico, streets ahead of the rest. Maybe the next research will start to look for how we can apply “lessons” from such countries to the US?

Or…maybe not?