What social trends told us about the American economy in 2021

This could also have been the year “OK, Boomer” added the word to “You OK, Boomer?”

A recent Federal Reserve survey of business contacts found that several “found baby boomers quitting their jobs and selling businesses to retire early – a trend that was due (1957 was the peak birth year among the Baby boomers; these babies will be 65 next year). but has accelerated due to the pandemic burnout. “

That shows in the data. People over 45 have been slower to return to the labor market since the pandemic began. This group includes Gen X members, who are between 41 and 56 years old, and baby boomers who are roughly 57 to 75 years old. It’s not clear if the seeming rush for early retirement will continue: people can return once health is over, the pandemic fear is behind us, or if stocks return to less positive valuations, the value of bond portfolios will decline.

What happens next to the middle-aged workforce will be critical to the future of the labor market. If older workers stay absent, the US employment rate – and the labor pool available to employers – could remain depressed compared to pre-pandemic levels. This is bad news for employers who are increasingly desperate for recruiting.

Don’t shed all the tears for the baby boomers, because millennials had a tough time in 2021 too. They split the year to remind the internet they are graying, keeping botox boutiques running, and feeling appalled as Generation Z, their successors, accused them of being old. A generation that made the ill-informed decision to recycle the low-rise trend also had the cheek to claim that side panels make people look old 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, has entered adulthood and the labor market at full speed during the pandemic. It’s a comparatively small generation, but its members could shake things up. They are digital natives and have different attitudes and expectations of work life than their older colleagues.

If office workers actually get to know their new colleagues, things could get interesting.

Speaking of the office, this year the initials “RTO” are firmly anchored in the specialist dictionary. Planning to return to the office was repeatedly turned on its head by rolling waves of infection, but that didn’t stop the screams of outrage. Many professionals began to question the usefulness of high heels and pants – derisively known as “hard pants” – as opposed to their much more popular and couch-friendly “soft pants”.

Whether the future of workwear will include more elastic cuffs remains an open question, but it is becoming increasingly clear that America is unlikely to be reverting to many of its old work habits. Employee surveys have shown that many haven’t missed the job, and employers are increasingly turning to hybrid work models and location flexibility, also to avoid further layoffs.

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