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The economic and financial stresses will exceed the workforce’s carrying capacity in the next recession.
A number of recent surveys reflect a widespread sense of financial stress and symptoms of poor health in America’s workers, particularly the younger generations. There’s no real mystery as to the cause of this economic anxiety:
— competition for secure, well-paid jobs that were once considered the birthright of the middle class is increasingly fierce;
— the pay and predictability of the jobs that are available are low;
— high-paying jobs are extraordinarily demanding, forcing workers to sacrifice everything else to keep the big-bucks position;
— the much-lauded gig economy is tracking the Pareto Distribution, as 80% of the income accrues to the top 20%, and those trying to earn a lower-middle class income in the gig economy are working long hours to do so;
— housing costs are unaffordable in hot job markets;
— commutes to jobs from lower-cost areas are brutal;
— student loan debt taken on to earn low-value diplomas is crushing.
These are just the highlights, not an exhaustive list of the common stresses experienced by American workers of all ages.
The inevitable result of these pressures over time is burnout, which anecdotally is reaching epidemic proportions in the U.S. and other nations.
While many of these stresses are unique to private-sector precariats in the gig economy or insecure positions in Corporate America, many public-sector workers in public safety and healthcare are also prone to burnout due to increasing workloads and understaffing.
While government agencies and Corporate America recognize the dangers to productivity posed by burnout, few agencies and companies are taking concrete actions to address the sources. Given that many of the sources are systemic, there is only so much agencies and companies can do; but what they can do may make the difference between workers free-falling into total burnout or being able to manage high levels of chronic stress.