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Multigenerational Workforce in Difference Industries

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Multigenerational Workforce in Difference Industries
Lingwen Meng
Lee University

The multigenerational diversity in workforces in different industries is getting larger in the last decade. Not only there are a major shifting of young workforce to professional industries and non-professional industries, but there is a growing in size of elder workforce in the most popular industries. This fact is creating many changes and challenges in communication between different generations at work.
Keywords: multigenerational workforce, business communication

According to Department for Professional Employees, the young workforce is defined as people aged 20 through 34 who are working at the moment. On the other hand, the elder workforce is the people aged above 35 who are working. In 2013, young people were estimated to be twenty-seven percent of the professional workforce.
On a macro scale, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2013, the total number of young workers in all industries was 49 million people out of 144 million employees in the U.S, which is 34 percent of the total workforce. The total number of elder workers in all industries was 95 million people out of 144 million employees in the U..S, which takes 64 percent of the total workforce. The amount of elder workers was nearly double the amount of young workers.
Young workers with less education than associated degree are moving to lower-paying retail and food service jobs. On the other hand, the ones with higher education than bachelor degree are finding employment in fast-growing professional and technical industries such as health care or education. According to Department for Professional Employees, “in 2013, 15.7 million workers between the ages of 20 and 34 were employed in professional and technical occupations. These occupations are diverse and include teachers, nurses, computer programmers, civil engineers, and over 175 other occupations.” Also from the same source, the top ten occupation that attract most young workforce are Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Media; Computer and Mathematic; Architecture and Engineering; Life, Physical, Social Science; Community and Social Service; Healthcare practitioner and Technical occupation; Management; Business and Financial Operation; and Community and Social Service (chart below). Contrentration of Young Professionals in the Professional Workforce. Retrieved from
Based on the chart above, the industry with highest young worker concentration is art, degin, and entertainment, which takes 36.3 percent of the whole group. The second place is life, physical, and social science, which takes 33 percent. The industry with lowest young worker concentration is management, which take 20.5 percent of the whole group.
According to Department for Professional Employees, the amount of young workers are nearly equal between industries that requires mostly lower-skilled worker (26 million workers) and industries that requires higher-skilled worker (25.1 million). There have been a lot of changes in the young worker density in the top ten industries (chart below). Growth and Decline in the Young Workforce by Select Industries. Retrieved from
Based on the chart above, from 2004 to 2013, there is a large decline in the young workforce in construction industry with 28 percent, wholesale industry with 36 percent, and manufacturing industries with 19 percent, and telecommunication with 34 percent. On the other side, there is growth in the young workforce in other industries. In mining industries, the young workforce increases by 240 percent. In internet publishing and broadcasting industry, the young workforce increases by 374 percent. There are also significant growth of young workforce in other industries such as retail trade, food services, educational services, arts, entertainment, and recreation. Based on information gathered from Bureau of Labor Statistic, in the top ten industries, the elder workers still take up the majority of employment. In mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction industry, workers over 35 years old are 63 percent while workers under 35 take 37 percent. In construction, elder workforce takes 68 percent while young workforce takes 32 percent. In manufacturing, elder workforce takes 73 percent while young workforce takes 27 percent. In wholesale and retail trade, the elder workforce takes 58 percent while young workforce takes 42 percent. In education and health services, the elder workforce takes 69 percent while the young workforce takes 31 percent. In healthcare and social assistance, the elder workforce takes 68 percent while the young workforce takes 32 percent. In accommodation and food service, the elder workforce takes 38 percent while the young workforce takes 62 percent. In public administration, the elder workforce takes 77 percent while the young workforce takes 23 percent. In professional and business services, the elder workforce takes 67 percent while the young workforce takes 33 percent. In financial activities industry, the elder takes 70 percent, while the young workforce takes 30 percent. In information industry, the elder workforce takes 64 percent while the young workforce takes 36 percent. In transportation and utilities industry, the elder workforce takes 75 percent while the young workforce takes 25 percent. The young workforce is still growing but it is not fast enough to utilize the large young labor force. To illustrate on this point, The Department of Professional Employees found the following:
Among all 37 major industries, the young workforce grew by less than one percent from March 2004 to March 2013. At the same time, the young population grew by six percent. In March 2013, 10 percent of young workers were unemployed. This equates to nearly 5.6 million young people out of work in March 2013. Millions of jobs need to be created to put these young people back to work; however, at the current job creation rate it will be a decade before young workers are at full employment.
The unemployment rate for the youngest workers is staggering. In March 2013, 15.5 percent of workers ages 18 through 26 were unemployed and 34 percent were not in the labor force. In March 1989, 8.1 percent of workers ages 18 through 26 were unemployed and 26 percent were not in the labor force.
Among all young people in March 2013, 26.1 percent were not in the labor force; in March 1989, just 21 percent of young workers were not in the labor force. In the midst of the economic collapse in March 2009, 23.8 percent of young people were not in the labor force. Decreases in labor force participation have long-term consequences for the wages and employability of young workers.
There are three main conclusions could be drawn from these data. First on all, the young workforce, thus is half the size of the elder workforce, is growing more in both professional industries and non-professional industries. Secondly, the elder workforce is also growing constantly due to the aging baby boomers and the need for elder to keep on working after retirement to cover their high expenses. Last but not least, which is the ultimate result; the variety of ages in the workforce is becoming more and more diverse, which will create a lot of challenges in communication between different generations.
A great solution for the challenge organizations are facing, which is the hardship in communication between multigenerational workforces, is to focus on the complementary strengths of the two parties. Instead of having a closed mind-set and point of view and saying “They don’t get it”, both young and elder workforces have to understand the strengths of themselves and of other party. If the strength of the young workforce is technology and creativity then the strength of the elder workforce must be the experience and wisdom. In his article, Daniel Burrus stated that “if I were a young person applying for a job, and the hiring manager was older, I’d say something like: “I realize I don’t have any experience in this business, and that’s exactly why you need me—because I have an open mind, and I understand and use technology in a different way than you do. I will be able to think of creative ideas and solutions in new ways because I don’t have the legacy of the business in my way. But I do respect working with people who have been in the business for a long time, who have experience, so that together we can create new solutions and uncover hidden opportunities.” Hence, by respecting one another, keeping a student mentality and willing to share their knowledge, the two different workforce will be able to win more.

Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey. (2014, April 25). Retrieved March 29, 2016, from
Burrus, D. (2013, March 25). It’s Time to End the War Between the Young and the Old! Retrieved March 28, 2016, from
The Young Population and Workforce. (2013, June). Retrieved March 28, 2016, from
The Young Professional Workforce. (2014). Retrieved March 25, 2016, from

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