What social trends told us about the U.S. economy in 2021

This may also be the year “OK, Boomer” gave way to “Are you okay, Boomer? “

A recent Federal Reserve survey of business contacts found that several “noted that baby boomers were quitting their jobs and selling businesses to retire earlier – a trend that was due (1957 marked the year of peak for births among baby boomers; those babies will turn 65 next year) but has accelerated due to pandemic exhaustion.

It shows up in the data. People over 45 have been slower to return to the workforce since the start of the pandemic. This group includes Gen Xers, aged 41 to 56, and Baby Boomers, aged approximately 57 to 75. It is not clear whether the apparent rush to early retirement will persist: people may return to it once the health pandemic fear is behind us, or if stocks return to less sustained valuations, reducing value. retirement portfolios.

What happens next with the middle-aged and older workforce will be critical to the future of the labor market. If older workers stay out, the participation rate of the U.S. workforce – and the pool of workers available to employers – could remain depressed from pre-pandemic levels. This will be bad news for employers, who are increasingly desperate to hire.

Don’t shed all your tears for the baby boomers because millennials also had a tough time in 2021. They split the year between reminding the internet that they are getting older, keeping the Botox shops running and feeling horrified. by Generation Z, their successors, accused them of being old. A generation that made the ill-informed decision to recycle the hipster trend also had the nerve to claim that the side parts make people look like they’re getting older and skinny jeans are out.

Whether their elders are ready or not, the reality is that Gen Z, the group born from 1997 to 2012, began to enter adulthood and into the workforce in force during the pandemic. It’s a relatively small generation, but its members could shake things up. They are fully digital natives and have different attitudes and expectations about working life compared to their older counterparts.

If office workers ever meet their new colleagues, things could get interesting.

Speaking of office, this year, firmly put the initials “RTO” in the professional lexicon. Planning for the return to the office has been repeatedly shattered by waves of infection, but that hasn’t stopped cries of outrage. Many professionals have started to question the usefulness of high heels and slacks – known derisively as “hard pants” – as opposed to their much more popular and suitable alternative to the sofa.

Whether the future of workwear will involve more elastic belts remains an open question, but it’s increasingly clear that America is unlikely to revert to many of its old work habits. . Worker surveys suggest that many have not missed the office, and employers are increasingly turning to hybrid work models and location flexibility, in part to avoid fueling further quits.


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