Changing Workforce Demographics Impacting Labor Markets & Site Selection Strategies

by King White, on Sep 21, 2021 4:03:46 PM

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released an interesting analysis in August evaluating the changing demographics of the U.S. labor force over the last 40 years. With labor markets extremely tight right now, it really makes you wonder where demographics will trend from here and how it will impact corporate site selection strategies in the future. To help understand these demographic trends, Site Selection Group takes a deeper look at the data.

Changing workforce demographic impact site selection trends

Corporate site selection trends evolve over time and adapt to changing demographic and economic trends. A location that is hot one year may be old news the next, so it is critical to stay ahead of the trends to maximize the longevity of your operations in geography. In the last 40 years, we have seen a shift in workers’ ages, race, gender, education, and other factors that influence how you evaluate locations for white-collar operations such as headquarters, software engineering, and call centers as well blue-collar operations such as manufacturing plants and distribution centers. It is an ongoing evolution that you have to monitor in order to find the next hot location for corporate expansion.  

Aging workforce is straining labor markets

Over the last 40 years, there has been a significant shift in workforce demographics due to the aging workforce. Baby boomers have almost hit retirement and their grandchildren are entering the workforce. The following summarizes the trend and provides a graph illustrating the trend from 1979 to 2019:

  • Workers 16 to 19 decreased from 8% in 1979 to 3% in 2019.
  • Workers 16 to 24 decreased from 23% to 12%.
  • Workers 65 years old or older increased from 3% to 7%.
  • Workers 55 or older increased from 15% to 24%.

Percent of employed people by age, 1979-2019 annual averages

Shifting-demos-0921ai-01Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Women’s representation in the labor force grows but is flattening

The growth of women in the workforce has helped to significantly expand and diversify the labor force over the last four decades. However, growth has stalled in the last 20 years which could be a factor adding to the strain in labor conditions today. The following data identifies the trend between 1979 and 2019:

  • By 1979, women’s share of the employed population was at 42%, which was up from just 28% in 1948.
  • Women in the labor force leveled off at around 47% by 2000 and remained there through 2019.

Percent of employed people by sex and martial status, 1979 and 2019 annual averages

Shifting-demos-0921ai-02Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Racial and ethnic diversification alters workforce demographics

Immigration and higher fertility rates in racial and ethnic groups have increased the labor force base while creating a much more diverse workforce. Corporations have adapted and become much more inclusive over the last 40 years. Between 1979 and 2019, the following summarizes some of the shifts in racial and ethnic groups in the labor force:

  • Non-white fraction of all U.S. workers grew from 12% to 22%
  • Hispanic or Latino grew from 5% to 18%

Percent of employed people by race and Hispanic or Latino ethnicity, 1979 and 2019 annual averages

Shifting-demos-0921ai-03Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

The transition from an industrial to white-collar economy

Another trend in the U.S. labor force has been the transition from an industrial to a white-collar economy. The fraction of U.S. workers age 25 or older who had a bachelor’s degree or higher grew from 27% in 1992 to 42% in 2019. The growth of the white-collar sector, which includes operations such as headquarters, software engineering, shared service centers, call centers, and general sales offices was fueled by high-growth industry sectors such as software/technology, financial services, healthcare, and telecommunications/information.


It is amazing to see how the workforce has changed in only 40 years. These changes have created challenges and opportunities for companies embarking on a site selection project to find the optimal location to expand. The big question is this: How will the workforce change over the next 40 years?

Topics:Call CenterDistribution CentersManufacturingSite Selection GroupSite Selection



Blog Posts →


News →


Success Stories →