The changing workforce is a major characteristic of the new economy.
One of the most important changes is the slowdown in U.S. population growth, characterized by the “baby bust” generation — Americans 15 to 26 years old, born between 1965 and 1976.
In fact, according to the Hudson Institute’s landmark report, Workforce 2000, and other recent studies, there will be 20% fewer new entrants to the workforce in the 1990s than in the 1970s. That is why we are seeing tighter labor markets and, in may places, actual labor shortages.
The composition of the workforce is also undergoing major changes.
- The average age of workers is rising as the boomer generation gets older. This is the 77 million Americans 27 to 45 years old, born between 1946 and 1964. This aging workforce, representing nearly half the working population, is more productive, experienced and reliable than a younger workforce.
- Non-white minorities will make up nearly 30% of new workers between now and the end of the decade.
- With nearly 600,000 immigrants per year entering the U.S., more than one of five new workers will be immigrants. This will spur economic growth in the South and the West, where the new wave of Latino and Asian immigration is largely concentrated.
- Nearly two-thirds of new workers will be women. By the year 2000, more than 60% of working age women will have jobs.
Even more dramatic is the rise of female entrepreneurs. According to a study by Terry McCullough of the Center for the New West and the Women’s Economic Development Council of Colorado, women own more than 30% of the nation’s businesses — up from less than 5% in 1970.
The gross receipts of women-owned firms total nearly $300 billion, nearly double the amount in 1982. By the year 2000, according to McCullough, women will own more than 36% of the nation’s businesses.
Nearly a third of all women-owned firms are in the West, and western states, led by Colorado, have the highest number of women-owned firms per capita in the nation. The other leaders are Alaska, Wyoming, Montana, Oregon, Kansas, Minnesota, and Nebraska.
California is 11th per capita, although it has the highest number of women-owned firms and the highest volume of receipts. Nationally, there are 1,765 women-owned firms per 100,000 residents.
The most successful women-owned firms are in metropolitan areas. The greatest growth of women-owned firms is in construction and manufacturing and the lowest is in the traditional areas of agriculture and services.
Even in services, most of the growth in women-owned firms is in non-traditional areas such as auto services, food stores and real estate.
The expanding role of women in the economy is not just limited to occupational jobs or to corporate bureaucracies. Women entrepreneurs are a driving force in the new economy, where women-owned firms are among the fastest growing.