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December 14, 1999
DOL explores 'Futurework'
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t to know more about the trends and challenges businesses will face in the 21st century? The Department of Labor (DOL) has put together Futurework, a report designed to give you just such information.

"The workplace is undergoing rapid change," said Secretary of Labor Alexis M. Herman during her Labor Day address this year. "So are American workers. Technology, globalization, and new demographics are constantly redefining what work is. We know that as changes come and years pass, three things remain constant: American workers must have a balance between work and family, rising economic security, and workplaces that are safe and fair. Our challenge is to keep this foundation firm as we manage the changes."

Diversity on rise

Surprise. The workplace will become more diverse. According to the Futurework report, immigration will play the largest role in the growth of the United States through mid-century. Approximately 820,000 immigrants arrive annually on our shores, and two out of three will be of working age when they arrive. By the year 2050, we will have added 80 million immigrants to our population.

The number of minorities is projected to rise from one in every four to almost one in every two by the year 2050. Hispanics are expected to become the largest minority in the United States by 2010, and the Asian and Pacific Islander population is also expected to increase.

In addition, women will be working more and men will be working less. Since 1967, the percentage of women working year-round has climbed from 52 percent to 70 percent. During the same time, men's participation in the workforce has dropped from 80 percent to 75 percent.

What about those baby boomers? Currently making up 47 percent of workers and after dominating the workforce for the last 20 years, many boomers are starting to retire, meaning they will account for lower numbers in the future. However, the youngest boomers are only 35, so they will be around for some time to come.

The report also says to expect a rise in the number of workers with disabilities and older workers. This is because life expectancy rates have been steadily climbing, and seniors may decide to remain employed longer.

"We must choose to provide workers with the education and training they need to be skilled for tomorrow's jobs," Herman noted. "We must help every worker at every level to have the flexibility to succeed on the job and at home. And we must choose to embrace and value the diversity that is our destiny."

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