'New demographics' indicate a 'new diversity' is changing U.S. work force AT WORK


The "new demographics" is almost as popular a workplace buzzword as the "new diversity."

And the two are closely related.

Statisticians, economists, demographers and other number-crunchers point out that the labor pool is changing. Their projection that white men will make up only 15 percent of net pTC new hires in this decade is the foundation of what is known as the "new demographics."

These demographics, which indicate women and minorities -- including immigrants -- will be the majority of entry-level workers by the end of the century, plus the graying of America and a slow-growing labor pool, are driving the "new diversity."

Those entering the labor force "between 1990 and 2005 . . . will be more ethnically diverse -- labor force growth among African-Americans, Hispanics and Asians is projected to be more rapid than for whites," according to a report by Workforce, a publication of the Interstate Conference of Employment Security Agencies, based in Washington.

The impact of the new demographics on employment is far-reaching. And demographers -- who describe and interpret population trends such as gender, age, race and nationality -- increasingly are in demand to analyze and explain these facts of life for the 1990s and beyond.

Demographers, also called market analysts, statisticians and economists, "toil in obscurity and deal mostly with abstractions, but their work is used all over the real world," according to American Demographics magazine.

"The increasing labor force participation of females, the opening up of U.S. immigration laws, the shift from a white European population both in immigration and fertility rates, and the aging of the U.S. population -- these are the kind of factors that businesses and decision-makers are concerned about," said Steve Laue, partner and demographic consultant at Midwest Data Resources in Schaumburg, Ill.

Mr. Laue has a bachelor of arts degree in geography, economics and statistics from the University of Illinois and a master's in statistical geography from the University of Wisconsin.

He was an information specialist with the U.S. Bureau of the Census for 14 years before co-founding his consulting firm last year with Ron Skupien, an economic and demographic analyst.

The new demographics, Mr. Laue says, are starting to be felt as "the traditional source of skilled workers [the white male population] is becoming smaller, and the need to retain the skills of an aging population increases."

Mr. Laue says his clients are corporate human resource personnel who need to know work force demographics "not just to meet EEOC [Equal Employment Opportunity Commission] and affirmative-action requirements, but to remain competitive in global economy."

Here are some of the new demographics Mr. Laue says one must know to know to "identify good potential sources of labor" in the 1990s:

* Today, 25 percent of the population is Hispanic or a racial minority.

* By the end of the decade, white males will make up only 47 percent of the labor force.

* From 1991 to 1992, there were some 900,000 new jobs created. Of those, 300,000 were filled by minorities.

* Sixty-six percent of all married women with children are in the paid labor market.

* By 2000, one in three Americans will be 45 or older. These are the notorious Baby Boomers. White men in this age group will be exiting the labor force in great numbers.

* In 2000, only 9.4 percent of the population will be in the 18 to 24 age group, down from 12.2 percent in 1970. This demographic is known as the "birth dearth."

"The new demographics are a force that must be managed and understood," said Mr. Laue. "Employers cannot stick to the old ways . . . with outmoded perceptions about what kinds of jobs women, minorities, the disabled, elderly or immigrants can do."

Because of changing demographics, "the leaders of U.S. corporations must also recognize that the makeup of the overall American work force today is vastly different from what it was when they started in business -- and this change is only going to continue," writes R. Roosevelt Thomas Jr. in his book "Beyond Race and Gender" (Amacom, $15.95).

Mr. Thomas, secretary of the college at Morehouse College in Atlanta and president of The American Institute for Managing Diversity, says businesses that don't make full use of all segments of the population are "destined to waste their people and watch their profits go down the drain."

Education is another problem raised by the new demographics.

"Females, minorities and immigrants are the groups we historically have underinvested in," said Ann McLaughlin, president and chief executive of the New American Schools Development Corp., a Washington-based organization that seeks to raise $200 million to bring educational excellence to future workers -- U.S. children -- through the public schools.

Ms. McLaughlin, former Labor secretary, heads an organization of top business and academic leaders. She says the new demographics underscore the need for all students to be "prepared for the rigors of what will surely be an increasingly complex and competitive global workplace."

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