Changes in the Labor Market

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Global economic trends, demographic shifts, environmental changes, and new technologies are influencing how we contribute and earn a living in today's labor market.

Working or not – in an organization, in the gig or sharing economy, as an incubating business, or as an under-funded nonprofit – precarious and/or unpredictable income, job insecurity, and reduction of material and psychological welfare are becoming the lived reality for more people every day. These risks are intergenerational and span all education levels and socio-economic classes.


of organizations are replacing full-time employees with contingent workers as a cost-saving measure

The economic environment and demands of the labor market are always shifting.

The 2008 Great Recession had a significant and lasting impact on older workers as well as those entering the market for the first time. Many have still not gained traction in the labor market even though unemployment numbers in recent economic trends have been reported as low. That group is now joined by millions of workers worldwide reeling from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Impacts on Older Workers


of older workers (ages 55 to 64), or upwards of 4 million workers, are in alternative work arrangements (AWAs – on-call, temp, gig, independent contractor); an increase from 2005 to 2015 from 15.4% to 24.4% (source: SCEPA)


of households age 55 and older have neither retirement savings nor a pension (source: Government Accountability Office) (GAO)


workers age 62+, have jobs paying less than $15K per year; an increase grew from 10 to 15% from 2005 to 2015 (source: SCEPA)

America was built on an economic platform by which citizens earn their income – and their sense of worth – through employment…Our challenge is not finding more ways to fit people into “meaningful” jobs. Our challenge is helping people find and sustain work in the labor market that offers them an opportunity to make a contribution, to make them feel worthwhile, and to make meaning for themselves.

– Ellen Ruppel ShellJob: Work and Its Future in a Time of Radical Change

Without a productive outlet for our creativity and decision-making, as humans we have trouble maintaining a positive outlook.

If we aren’t able to effectively earn a sustainable and meaningful livelihood, a downward spiral of shame and isolation starts negatively impacting relationships with family and friends. If not interrupted, this downward spiral has long-term implications not only for individuals but also for our communities at large.

On the broadest level, this means we have many talented individuals sidelined when there is still work to be done and problems to be solved in the world.

You are not alone.
These issues are systemic: global and bigger than you.

Learn more about the changing economy

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