Americans in Their Prime Are Flooding Into the Job Market | Kanebridge News
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Americans in Their Prime Are Flooding Into the Job Market

Share of people between 25 and 54 working or seeking jobs rose this year to highest level since 2002

By JEFFREY SPARSHOTT
Tue, Jul 25, 2023 8:41amGrey Clock 4 min

The core of the American labour force is back.

Americans between 25 and 54 years of age are either employed or looking for jobs at rates not seen in two decades, a trend helping to counter the exodus of older baby boomers from the workforce. Economists define that age range as in their prime working years—when most Americans are done with their formal education, aren’t ready to retire and tend to be most attached to the labor force.

In the first months of the pandemic, nearly four million prime-age workers left the labor market, pushing participation in early 2020 to the lowest level since 1983—before women had become as much of a force in the workplace. Prime-age workers now exceed pre pandemic levels by almost 2.2 million.

That growth is taking a little heat out of the job market and could help the Federal Reserve’s efforts to tamp down inflation by keeping wage growth in check.

Women lead the way

The resurgence of mid career workers is driven by women taking jobs.

The labor-force participation rate for prime-age women was the highest on record, 77.8% in June. That is well up from 73.5% in April 2020.

Men, however, tend to be employed at higher rates. The overall prime-age participation rate rose in June to 83.5%, the highest since 2002.

The big draw: a tight labor market. The unemployment rate has hovered near a half-century low for more than a year, and job openings outnumber the ranks of unemployed. Employers can’t be as choosy or selective, William Rodgers, vice president and director of the Institute for Economic Equity at the St. Louis Fed, said earlier this month.

Employers “are more apt to be willing to work with candidates—in this case it’s working with moms, or parents in general,” he said. “Tight labor markets can help to punish those who discriminate in hiring and compensation.”

Other factors are also at play. Women aren’t having as many children—there were about 3.66 million births in 2022, 655,000 fewer than the peak in 2007—so child-care responsibilities have decreased.

Julia Pollak, chief economist at ZipRecruiter, said it is possible for women’s participation to rise further if employers adopt or the government requires additional family-friendly policies. U.S. female participation lags behind that of other industrialised economies in part because of the cost of child care, which is subsidised elsewhere.

Rising wages lure workers, counter demographic shifts

Employers raised wages, offered employees more flexibility and improved benefits in recent years.

Average wage gains remain elevated this year and have recently surpassed inflation. And Americans are logging more hours of work from home than they did before the pandemic.

Employer recruitment efforts helped offset some broader demographic shifts, including an ageing population and rise in retirements.

The share of the population age 55 and over in the labor force climbed steadily from the mid-1990s through the 2008 financial crisis and remained elevated for more than a decade. The Covid-19 pandemic pushed many out of the workforce, and some older workers haven’t returned, particularly those over 65.

Much of the decline in the overall participation rate was anticipated as baby boomers aged out of the workforce, but the rise in prime-age workers meant the drop wasn’t as steep.

The Congressional Budget Office in January 2020, just before the pandemic hit, forecast the overall participation rate to deteriorate steadily through the 2020s, moving down to 62.4% in the second quarter of this year.

Instead, the rate was a couple of ticks higher in June at 62.6%, supported by prime-age workers.

“It seems like there is almost no cap on the supply of workers, only a speed limit on how fast we can bring them in,” Pollak said, referring to both rising prime-age participation and an influx of immigrants into the workforce.

Trends could turn if the economy cools

There are concerns that the Fed’s campaign to bring down inflation through higher interest rates will cause unemployment to rise too much and push some of the most vulnerable workers back to the sidelines.

The median forecast among Fed officials shows the unemployment rate rising to 4.1% by the end of this year and 4.5% next year from 3.6% in June, suggesting the economy will shed tens of thousands of jobs.

Labor-force participation tends to be cyclical, rising when the economy is strong and falling during downturns. A weaker labor market combined with structural barriers to employment could cap further gains.

With “current strength of labor demand set to fade, further progress from here will probably be more gradual,” Andrew Hunter, deputy chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics, said in a research note.



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Preparatory Work for UAE to Oman Hafeet Rail Project Commences at Full Speed

Preparations have begun on the transformative UAE to Oman Hafeet Rail network, revealing significant construction details during a site visit.

Thu, May 16, 2024 3 min

The $3bn Hafeet Rail project between the UAE and Oman will feature 60 bridges and a 2.5km tunnel, making it an “architectural and engineering marvel,” according to CEO Ahmed Al Musawa Al Hashemi.

Hafeet Rail has announced that preparatory work is moving full speed ahead for constructing the transformative railway link between the UAE and Oman. This announcement was made during a site visit attended by key officials, members of the Asyad and Hafeet Rail executive management teams, project contractors, and consultants.

Key Highlights

During the visit, attendees were introduced to the main components of the project, including passenger, repair, and shipping stations, as well as major bridges and tunnel sites.

The Hafeet Rail project is set to play a very important role in enhancing local and regional trade, unlocking new opportunities in the infrastructure, transportation, and logistics sectors, and fostering economic diversification. It will also strengthen bilateral relations between the UAE and Oman.

The project will involve constructing 60 bridges, some reaching heights of up to 34 meters, and tunnels extending 2.5 kilometres. The Hafeet Rail team showcased the latest rail technologies and innovative engineering and architectural solutions designed to navigate the challenging geographical terrain and weather conditions while maintaining high standards of efficiency and safety.

The rail network will boost various industrial sectors and economic activities and significantly impact the tourism industry by facilitating easier and faster travel between the two countries.

Ahmed Al Bulushi, Asyad Group Chief Executive Asset, noted that the project’s rapid progress reflects the commitment of the UAE and Oman to developing and realizing the project’s multifaceted benefits.

Investment and Future Impact

Al Bulushi added that investments in developing local capabilities and expertise in rail-related disciplines over recent years have enabled the project to reach the implementation phase successfully under the leadership of highly efficient and professional national talent.

Hafeet Rail’s CEO Ahmed Al Musawa Al Hashemi emphasized, “The commencement of preparatory works for construction is a testament to the robust synergy between all parties involved in both nations, achieving this milestone in record time. We are confidently laying down the right tracks thanks to the shareholders of Hafeet Rail and the expertise of local companies in Oman and the UAE, alongside international partners.”

During the site visit, the visitors explored some of the key preparatory sites, including Wadi Al Jizi, where a 700-meter-long bridge towering 34 meters will be constructed. This ambitious project is envisioned as an architectural and engineering marvel in a complex geographical landscape.

Future phases will require more collaboration, with a continued focus on quality, safety, and environmental considerations in line with the international industry best practices.

The Hafeet Rail project represents the first-of-its-kind railway network linking two Gulf nations, marking a significant shift in regional goods transportation. This efficient and reliable transportation option will reduce dependence on slower and less sustainable road transport.

Hafeet Rail promises a 40% reduction in shipping costs and a 50% in transit times compared to traditional land transportation methods, as it will be connecting five major ports and several industrial and free zones in both countries.

This shift will reduce reliance on road transport by cars and trucks and promote more sustainable shipping practices. The establishment of the railway network will also create significant opportunities for SMEs in construction, engineering, and logistics support, acting as a catalyst for economic growth and innovation within the domestic economy.

By linking major ports, the Hafeet Rail project will enable local SMEs to import, export, and distribute their products more effectively, enhancing their market reach and global competitiveness.

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