As the United States gazes towards the horizon of one administration and prepares for the tumultuous passing of the torch, the country finds itself teetering on a dangerous precipice. Not since the year 2000 has there been such a low participation rate in the labor force. Whichever line of reasoning you chose to justify this point is each citizen’s personal choice; however the fact still remains that a growing number of individuals are not willing or even looking for work. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the labor force participation rate is hovering just over 60%. 60%! It can be said that the national economy and the numerous industries this country produces will be drastically impeded as this trend grows.

As with all surveys and studies into labor as a whole, several aspects emerge that explain why individuals are choosing different paths in regards to their jobs and livelihood. First and foremost, it has been explained by the ASA that relatively few adults plan to look for new work this year. For many, almost six out of ten, express that their current quality of life and the flexibility they currently enjoy stifles their interest in looking for new opportunities. These same individuals also state that these motives are more valuable than future pay and wage potential. Prospective job seekers such as the ones mentioned above illustrate a shift in thought when it comes to approaching work. Unlike their predecessors, current members of the workforce value their work life balance more than ever seen before. The days of progressing into a new career path or seeking out new opportunities, in some industries at least, seem to be at an end. A lot of people are just flat out content.

Stemming from the work life balance approach to considering a new position, the ASA also mentions that more than seven out of ten adults are unlikely to relocate for a new position as well. Although traveling to a work site is common place in some arenas, it seems a growing number of individuals will completely write off an opportunity if it requires a move out of their locale. This is understandable to some degree due to family, friends, or having an established, embedded network in one area, but with the advances in technology it would seem to be almost a moot point. Both companies and workers could be more flexible seeing that many businesses and relationships are currently established through these new technologies, ie. video conferencing, working remotely etc.

Due to the fact that the labor force is projected to continue on this declining trend, employers must vie for the limited talent that will be out there, actively seeking out new opportunities. Diversification in recruitment policies and even approaching a restructuring of company policies to enhance labor’s work- life balance must be addressed as possible solutions for retention. It seems unorthodox that companies must restructure themselves to attract what is left of the work force, but in order for profits to be made and business to continue to be successful, industry leaders need to take a hard look at today’s work force and adjust accordingly. Those that get ahead of this labor trend now and establish ways to both attract and retain new talent from this smaller pool, will hopefully get through unscathed.



Chris Bresnahan is the Business Development Manager for The Lee Group, an Executive Search & Staffing Firm. He is instrumental in bringing top talent to new clients in all industries. To discuss how Chris can help your company Discover The Lee Group Difference, email him at chris.bresnahan@theleegroup.comChris Bresnahan Linkedin



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