A Year of Gifts
Gift of Obligations
Heading into the Labor Day weekend, I thought it would be appropriate to spend a little time talking about that “thing” many of us spend at least eight hours a day, five days a week, week in and week out, doing. The Labor Day holiday is meant to be a little respite from our work routine. I was curious how people might be feeling about their “day jobs” so I did a little research.
I stumbled across a report put out by the Pew Research Center on 9/1/16. Now please, bear with me. I’ll spare you the pain of throwing a ton of stats at you! The article by Drew Desilver is titled “10 facts about American workers”. Most of these sparked my interest and I thought it might be fun to share my thoughts on them. Nothing formal here – just my gut reaction to some of the items on the list.
According to the report, there are over 150 million Americans in the workforce.
Most workers are in the service sector.
• When I think “service sector”, my mind immediately goes to those hard-working people working in restaurants. But reading through the article, I noticed a huge chunk of this sector, almost 23MM people, are in the education and health services fields. Other groups mentioned included professional and business services, retail, and government workers. I tip my hat to all of you. You teach us, keep us alive, put clothing on our backs and keep our communities safe. Thank you!
Three in ten jobs in the US are held by the self-employed and their employees. Of the 15 million self-employed, only 25% of them had employees, and those that do only have a few.
• Working for yourself is not for the faint-of-heart. As glamorous as “being your own boss” sounds, we all know it is a LOT of hard work and it is up to YOU to keep the lights on. I admire every single one of you in this category of workers. Your tenacity and vision are the backbone of many communities. If anybody deserves to kick back and relax this holiday weekend – it’s you.
Millennials now make up the largest group in the labor force.
• If you were born between 1981 and 1996 (putting you between 22 and 37 right now), you fall in the Millennial group. While I realize there are dangers to “labeling” people by something as broad as the year they were born, I do think the research around the differences between the various generational categories is fascinating. I think most people would agree that this group of young adults is reshaping the worlds in which we live and work. They bring new skill sets, new points of view and new habits to the table. They have never known a world without computers and cell phones. They’ve witnessed how their parents or grandparents have fared during their careers and are changing those areas where they didn’t like what they saw happening to their loved ones. Folks, the world of work is changing…
The US gender wage gap is smaller among younger workers.
• The fact that we are even still having to talk about this makes my blood boil. Can we ignore it? No, we can’t. But we can fight against it. Fight to get paid what you’re worth. If you face gender discrimination (or any other kind of discrimination), take steps to rectify the situation. If it can’t be “fixed” where you are, it might be time to move on. Don’t make it easy for someone else to treat you unfairly.
The wage gap between those employees holding degrees and those without is the widest it’s been in decades.
• Fair? Sometimes… but not always. True? I’m sure it is. I tell kids all the time: if you can figure out a way to make it work, go get that degree. It’s your “ticket to play”. Even if you end up doing something unrelated to your degree, it can get you through some doors that would otherwise remain locked to you. Where there is a will there is a way.
Teen employment has fallen in recent decades.
• I found this one interesting only because I hadn’t really thought about it in this context. When I was growing up, I worked part-time gigs. It was what we did. Selling burgers at Randy’s and scooping hard ice-cream at Haugen’s Ice Cream Parlor was certainly not glamorous work but I learned invaluable lessons during my younger years in those entry level jobs. Lots of kids still do this but I suspect the study is accurate and not as many are making time for jobs. Kids today have a ton of options as to how to spend their time. Some choices they make actually preclude them from doing other things. Participation in some sports, for example, can be all-consuming, leaving kids little time for jobs.
Yes, one could argue that kids learn many great lessons participating in these extracurricular activities. I agree. But just make sure kids also learn how to support themselves. After all, they will be running things down the road. Equip them with all the skills they’ll need to be successful.
More older Americans are working. In May of 2016, nearly 9 million Americans ages 65 and older (18.8% in that age group) reported being employed full or part-time.
• Reading this, I wonder how many are doing this because they want to. I fear most are still working out of necessity. I don’t see this improving in coming years either. We all know too well the doomsday predictions around lack of savings for the golden years.
On the positive side, there are some real benefits to seniors remaining in the workforce past what has traditionally been considered “retirement age”. There are huge health benefits to staying active and engaged. Feeling useful and contributing to the world around us, either through paid work or volunteerism, can help people stay young-at-heart.
Just like other aspects of our lives, the working world is complicated. We should all strive to find work we enjoy because it consumes much of our precious time here on this earth. All jobs are important. In every line of work, you will find dedicated people that love what they are doing and disheartened folks who keep showing up to collect a paycheck for as long as they can get away with it. I hope you fall in the first group. If too often you find yourself in the second group, find something you do want to spend your time doing. “It ain’t all about the money folks!”
To those of you enjoying a long weekend off from work – relax and know you’ve earned it. To those of you retired from the daily grind, you’ve earned some r&r as well!
And please, check back next week for some exciting updates! Kim
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Kimberly Diede Author
Hello everyone and welcome to my blog! My name is Kimberly Diede and I'm a fiction author and family girl. When time permits, I am happiest with a great cup of coffee in one hand and a book in the other. I love to alternate between reading and writing. Winters here can be long, dark and cold. Summers are unpredictable, lovely and always too short. Every season of the year, as in every season of life, is a gift. Let's celebrate it together!