The state of work has undergone unprecedented change over the past year thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. The future of work appeared instantaneously into the present. Everything about work is changing faster than anyone could have imagined.
We've curated the most recent statistics and trends from a wide variety of sources to help you understand how rapidly work is changing, how to prepare for it and the many challenges that lie ahead.
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The COVID-19 pandemic moved remote work from the fringe to a central feature the of the American workforce with many companies making remote work a permanent option for their employees.
- 58% of workers who started working remotely because of the pandemic say they would now consider freelancing.
- 49% of American workers have experienced working remotely.
- The average number of days working from home has doubled from 6 days a month in 2019 to 12 days in 2020.
- Almost three in four CEOs plan to shift at least 5 percent of previously on-site employees to permanently remote positions post-COVID-19.
- 7.3 million American workers described themselves as "digital nomads" in 2019. This rose dramatically in 2020 with an increase of nearly 50%.
- In 2019, 37% of American workers had a commute of 30 minutes or less and 29% had one between 30 minutes and one hour.
Job losses due to the Pandemic Recession forced many workers to explore self-employment options. Experience with working remotely also gave many workers the confidence to finally go our on their own.
- In 2020 there were an estimated 59 million Americans working as independent workers, 36% of the total U.S. workforce.
- 46% of freelancers say freelancing provides them with the flexibility to accommodate personal circumstances in ways conventional work doesn't.
- Half of all Gen Z now freelances, 44% of Millennials and 30% of Gen X are freelancers.
- Independent workers contributed $1.3 trillion to the U.S. economy in 2019—close to the total GDP of Spain!
- More than half of full-time independent workers say they feel more financially secure as independents compared to working in a conventional job, a record high.
As the cost of automation continues to decline and artificial intelligence improves, the pandemic incentivized many corporations to invest in tech to do the work humans were unable to do.
- 56% of executives believe rapid advancements in new technologies and scientific innovations are poised to disrupt their industries.
- Investments in automation by agriculture, meatpacking and manufacturing increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- High-salary occupations requiring a college degree will be most affected by AI compared to all other occupations.
- 52% of consumers say that technology plays a prominent role or is ingrained into almost all aspects of their day-to-day lives. 19% view tech as an extension of themselves.
- 61% of executives across 21 industries expect their organizations will use robotics in uncontrolled environments within the next two years.
As economic change continues to accelerate, several new skills are in demand, but there's still not nearly enough people to fill the available positions even in the midst of the global economic slowdown triggered by the pandemic.
- The skills gap is most visible in the trades, middle-skilled jobs, and high-skilled STEM jobs.
- The 5 hard skills most desired by companies in 2020 are 1) Blockchain 2) Cloud Computing 3) Analytical Reasoning 4) Artificial Intelligence and 5) UX Design.
- Carpentry, plumbing, welding and machining are the trade skills in shortest supply most-lacking skills in the trades.
- The skills gap in American manufacturing may leave 2.4 million jobs unfilled through 2028 causing a potential economic loss of $2.5 trillion.
- The pool of qualified workers is shrinking rapidly. In 2008 there was 6.6 unemployed people per job. In 2020 there was 0.9 unemployed people per job.
- 5 out of 10 open positions for skilled workers in US manufacturing remain unoccupied due to the skills gap.
Traditional jobs no longer offer the economic security they provided to previous generations. Fundamental changes to conventional work is making less secure for more Americans.
- Just 11.7% of full-time employees were represented by unions in 2018. The share of American workers belonging to a union has fallen by half since its peak in 1954.
- Participation in the U.S. labor force peaked in 1997 and has been declining ever since.
- Millenials and Gen Xers are hitting a wall in their career advancement. The average age of incoming CEOs for S&P 500 companies has increased about 14 years over the past 14 years. This is referred to as the "Boomer Blockade."
- About two-thirds of U.S. workers experience burnout on the job, making them more likely to take sick days, feel less confident in their work or look for another job.
- The economy is unlocking increasing wealth, opportunity and flexibility for the top 40% of workers, but the bottom 60% are struggling to find their place in the changing economy.
- In 2019, 21% of Millennials said they changed jobs in the previous year to align with their values.
The value of a university degree is being challenged as universities shut down temporarily or permanently due to the pandemic. Those that have remained open are only offering classes online with very few offering a reduction in tuition.
- There are now 50+ MOOC-based masters degrees offered at a substantially lower cost than traditional degrees.
- Google announced in 2020 it will offer 100,000 needs-based scholarships as part of its new Career Certification program.
- There are 45 million borrowers who collectively owe more than $1.5 trillion in student loan debt in the U.S.
- Student loan debt is now the second highest consumer debt category, behind only mortgage debt.
- While the overall level of consumer prices has increased by a factor of four since 1978, the cost of college tuition and fees has increased by a factor of almost 14, more than triple the overall increase in consumer prices.
The pandemic exposed the deep inequities among American workers, especially Black Americans who are getting left behind at a faster rate than the general workforce.
- 21% of computer science degrees are awarded to Black and Latinx workers, yet they make up just 10% of the tech workforce.
- 98% of VC-backed tech startups have White or Asian founders. 83% are male.
- Black women workers experienced the largest unemployment rate of 16.9% in April of 2020 compared to 16.4% for black men, 15.8% for white women, and 12.8% for white men.
- Black men are paid only 87 cents on the dollar compared to white men. compared to white men.
- Black women are paid just 63 cents on the dollar compared to white men.
- The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a 41% decline in Black business ownership.
- Black workers were more likely to lose their jobs during the pandemic, but less likely to receive unemployment benefits.