The U.S. Labor Force: Present and
Projected Economic, Social, and
Beginning in the 1970s and accelerating thereafter, basic changes in the U. S.
economy were occurring, causing widespread dislocations and growing public
uncertainty and unease. In the early stages, these concerns focused upon industrial
competitiveness in a globalizing economy, shifts within and among the agricultural, manufacturing, and service sectors, and, relative to competition from
abroad, declines in productivity and product quality. By the mid-1980s and
subsequently, concerns shifted to changes in labor force composition and higher
skill requirements, inadequate education and training of future workers, and
growing strains in the nation's social fabric.The latter included weakening family structures, increased drug addiction,
and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) infection, coupled with impaired access by lower-income persons and families to adequate health care.
Also, violent crime and incarceration rates were increasing alarmingly. These
health, crime, and other social problems were having a devastating impact upon
school attendance and achievement in many districts, especially in large central
cities, resulting in a severe hemorrhaging in the number and quality of potential
future labor force participants.By the early 1990s a consensus was beginning to form across a broad spectrum
of public opinion and from leaders in both private and public sectors as to the
nature, severity, and scope of these interdependent economic and social
|• ||From the national government, former labor secretary Elizabeth Dole: "At a time when
the United States faces the stiffest international competition in our history, the basic
skills of our work force are eroding at an alarming pace. . . . Many of our workers are
unready -- unready for the new jobs, unready for the new realities."
|• ||From the Committee for Economic Development (CED): "These trends, if left unat-|