#Nextchat: The Extinction of the Middle-Class Job


“I’m on the board of directors of a temp staffing company with one billion dollars in revenues. I can see it happening across every sector of the economy. Everyone is getting fired. Everyone is toilet paper now.” – James Altucher

Are we witnessing the looming extinction of middle-class jobs?

Entrepreneur and author James Altucher wrote a gloomy piece for LinkedIn titled “10 Reasons Why You Have to Quit Your Job in 2014.” In it, he argues that “technology, outsourcing, a growing temp staffing industry and productivity efficiencies have all replaced the middle class,” and that an entrepreneurial spirit will be required for these workers to secure a more contented livelihood -- and retirement.

The U.S. labor force is undergoing significant changes, and job growth is occurring at the high and low ends of the pay scale while the middle is disappearing. The share of jobs that provided a middle-class standard of living is decreasing as the economy moves from a traditional manufacturing base to high-tech and service industries.

In the SHRM article “Prevalence of Low-Wage Jobs Could Be Economy’s Next Problem,” Joe Coombs analyzes a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) annual report on occupational employment and wages which shows that most of the 10 largest U.S. occupations are on the low end of the wage scale. He explains that “the BLS report echoes a recent trend of ‘growth on the edges’ of the U.S. labor force and the gradual diminishing of middle-class jobs.”

According to George Mason University economist Steven Fuller, there are “significant educational and training implications with this, and it seems like nobody is talking about it. Two-thirds of these jobs [highlighted in the BLS report] don’t even require a college degree. There should be renewed focus on vocational education.”

All of these changes are impacting the HR profession as well. How are you responding to this labor force trend as an HR professional and as an employer?

Please join @weknownext at 3 p.m. ET on October 1 for #Nextchat with special guest Michael Vandervort (@MikeVandervort). We’ll chat about how the labor force’s “growth on the edges” will affect HR and how HR will influence this historic workforce transition.

Q1. Which middle-class jobs are rapidly being replaced by technology?

Q2. In addition to technology, what other factors are causing the extinction of middle-class jobs?

Q3. Will the HR profession also become extinct -- outsourced or replaced by technology? Which parts will survive?

Q4. How is the disappearance of middle-class jobs affecting the recruiting industry?

Q5. How is the “growth on the edges” of the U.S. labor force affecting the HR profession?

Q6. What will new generations of workers need to do to be successful in today’s changing labor force landscape?

Q7. In what ways will HR pros act as liaisons between businesses and schools to develop training programs for in-demand jobs?

Q8. How will retirement change in the future -- what will retirement look like in 20 years?

Q9. What advice would you give to today’s high school students as they plan for future education and careers?

What's a Twitter Chat?

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