Donald W. Reynolds National Center For Business Journalism

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Covering Workers in a Robust Economy

June 21, 2018

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The rise of automation and the gig-economy are still no threat when it comes to traditional work. (Photo credit: Pixaabay, user skeeze)
While the economy is growing, there are untold stories behind employment numbers that can easily be missed. (Photo credit: Pixabay, user skeeze)

The rise of automation, coupled with the gig-economy, has left many fearing an automated apocalypse with robots displacing human. The truth is, well, we’re not quite there yet.

Yes, in certain jobs humans are being replaced by automated computers, but in the U.S. workers are still needed to perform jobs and fill positions. Human capital is still a valuable investment for companies across the country.

While the economy is growing, there are untold stories behind employment numbers that can easily be missed. Here are some areas to focus on as the economy continues to expand.

A recent report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics analyzing nontraditional jobs found that gig-economy isn’t on the rise. The data found that about 10 percent of all Americans in 2017 were employed in “alternative arrangements”— work categorized as freelance.

That number slightly decreased from 10.7 percent in 2005. The vast majority of Americans, some 93 percent of workers, are still dependent on traditional work.

Even though the numbers don’t match experts assumptions of a gig-economy takeover, these contract workers still face a flurry of problems that numbers don’t show. Issues about health care coverage and benefits are at the center of covering these workers. With the high cost of health care, how are these workers covering costs?

Retaining workers in a hot economy

The economy is hot! It’s been the first time since 2000 in which the number of job openings exceed the number of unemployed. But there is a catch. With such a robust economy, companies are struggling to retain workers. Owners of several trucking companies are offering their employees raises and many benefits to keep them from leaving, according to the Washington Post.

Plumbers are also being pampered by employers with perks that were not previously offered such as vacations to Hawaii, craft beer and arcade games. As the economy is expected to continue to grow, retaining job-specific workers has been a mission for many companies.

Are there companies in your area that are struggling with worker shortages? What are those companies offering employees to keep them from leaving?

Searching for top-talent

As highly-skilled workers migrate to tech-hubs and major cities across the U.S., convincing these workers to move to states that offer lower-pay is extremely hard. The low cost of living in cities such as Phoenix has taken a toll on CEO pay, according to the Phoenix Business Journal. This is partly due to the fact that companies in the state aren’t paying more for top-talent to relocate, which puts a strain on attracting these workers to the state.

Cities like Phoenix have a fierce competition up against New York, San Francisco, Boston, Seattle and Dallas that offer a higher compensation to workers. As states continue to offer incentives to companies to place their headquarters in their state to retain talented workers, what are some alternatives to this method your state or city is taking to compete with highly dense metros with top-talent.

One area college graduates are flocking to is the tech sector. Tech related jobs are sought after by recent college graduates. Look at some of the ways your city or state is expanding its tech sector to attract more talented workers.

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