Roaring 20s? Unemployment Rate Uncertain In New Decade


The past decade has seen heavily fluctuating unemployment rates nationwide, with recovery from the most recent recession progressing in a less than linear fashion. As the new decade begins, the question of unemployment rates and solutions for job creation will have a widespread impact, both within Michigan and across the country. Will the 2020s bring new jobs to the nation, or will the new decade see unemployment rates worsen?

Recession Recovery

With the recession of the late 2000s and early 2010s, unemployment in the last decade was set up to be a major national challenge from the start. While most of the effects of the recession have passed, some lingering impacts are still prevalent today and have been affecting the job market since. Every two years, The National Workforce Registry Alliance releases a data set that highlights the demographics, education, and training of the early childhood and afterschool workforce. Employment within education has particularly struggled, as teacher pay has remained consistently low within public schools.

Struggling Industries

While some industries have seen growing success leading into 2020, these same industries may also have growing rates of layoffs and fewer employees over time. Many manufacturing companies have long been implementing automation to cut costs, and now, technology is developing at a rate where automation can replace more employees than ever. Even office jobs are now at risk of being lost to automation with the increased capabilities of artificial intelligence. As it stands, printer and copier costs are typically the third-largest office expense behind rent and payroll. However, as more advanced software is developed, these costs will likely shrink. Lower costs associated with automation may lead employers to lay off more workers, even those who previously would have been unable to be replaced by technology.

Several technological advancements in the past few years alone could have more workers searching for new employment sooner than many may expect. While 72% of businesses say improving customer experience is their top priority, the appeal of these money-saving technologies could accelerate the rate at which employees are pushed out of their current jobs. In theory, automation leads to more jobs, as employees will be needed to create new machines or software. However, the jobs created by automation aren't always available to those who have lost their jobs, leading to gaps in employment and the workforce.

Human Costs

Shifting jobs and changes to the workforce have both an economic cost for companies as well as an individual human cost. The higher the unemployment rate, the larger the consequences and the more long-lasting they will be for the average American worker. The nation still has yet to fully recover on this front from the last major recession, particularly when it comes to health and health insurance. As many Americans find health insurance through their employer, higher unemployment rates mean more families without insurance. According to the CDC, nearly 30.1 million people under age 65 are uninsured. Fortunately, despite this statistic, it seems that many children at least are still getting necessary medical care. About 93% of children have seen a doctor in the last year. However, with automation on the rise and unemployment rates uncertain, it's possible that the 20s could be challenging for the nation's workforce and families.

Moving Forward

While the future remains uncertain with regards to the nation's job market, both businesses and individuals are taking steps to shrink the unemployment rate as much as possible, or at least stabilize it. Technology has led to the creation of unique jobs, including jobs that can be done at home or from anywhere with a suitable internet connection. The world of social media alone has entirely changed the employment landscape of both the state and the nation. With over 2 billion users each month, Facebook is definitely the largest social platform today. As social media continues to grow with the new decade, it may create more jobs while also allowing for new ways for people to search for employment.

The combination of technology and economic shifts leave the future of America's job market uncertain. With 2020 already underway, it remains to be seen just how much automation and gradual market changes will impact the unemployment rate.

For full story, pick up a copy of the MONTH XX issue of The Allegan County News/The Union Enterprise/The Commercial Record or subscribe to the e-edition.

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