Can real-time labor analytics save U.S. standard of living?

Can real-time labor analytics save U.S. standard of living?

Summary: The U.S. is going to get whacked by its aging population, lower workforce participation and declining productivity. Accenture argues that real-time labor analytics could be a fix.


The U.S. standard of living could fall 9 percent by 2030 to hit levels in 2000 unless states deploy real-time analytics and actionable insights on labor supply and demand, according to Accenture.

Accenture's report hits the raw nerve that runs through the U.S. economy---fears that the next generation may not be better off than their parents. The report, U.S. States: For Richer, For Poorer? Winning the battle for talent and securing our standard of living, has a public sector slant, but also applies to corporations.

The common reasons for a standard of living dip go like this:

accenture report living

Simply put, the U.S. is going to be whacked by an aging population, lower workforce participation and declining productivity. The working age population---defined as people ages 15 to 64---will fall to 61 percent in 2030, down from 66 percent in 2013. Given aging can't be reversed, the U.S. will have to make up the difference with workforce participation and productivity.

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And that conundrum gets interesting as states try to align in-demand skills, talent and workers. The other wrinkle is that states will have a hard time finding talent and competing against corporations.

Accenture noted:

Employers cannot find the talent they need and job seekers cannot find jobs that utilize the talents they have. This mismatch threatens the future of every family and state.

Part of the fix---at least according to Accenture---revolves around real time data and labor analytics. Real-time data will be needed because historical data doesn't predict future talent demand well.

Real-time information would yield positions currently open, industries hiring and for what positions, skills required, government roles needed, competencies in demand, training requirements and economic development impacts. Accenture continued:

To win the battle for talent, data needs to focus on today’s talent requirements—on the skills and competencies needed for success. Consider, for example, that the talent required to be a “computer programmer” is now vastly different, and far more diverse, than it was even a decade ago. Yet this is not reflected in the single standard occupational classification (SOC code) for computer programmers. Employers do not hire generic computer programmers, rather employers are looking to hire programmers with the specific skills they need today. And today a Java Developer is different from a Ruby Developer who is different from a Mobile Developer.

Accenture noted that job classifications are out of date and postings should revolve around competencies needed instead of titles and descriptions.

In a nutshell, all governments need at the state level are workforce systems that can source talent and find pools of workers.

Enter the savior IT system. I can almost smell the enterprise tech vendor pitches now revolving around analytics and big data. Technology giants will start pitching systems to find talent pools, align skills and improve productivity. And like most large monolithic implementations, there will be process, culture and technology glitches.

Accenture's take is most likely on target, but it's hard to see the government moving fast enough. Accenture found 72 percent of citizens didn't think U.S. government entities could keep up. The reality is that by the time budgets are approved and projects implemented work patterns may have already shifted a few times. Meanwhile, employers and job seekers don't see the government as a good labor broker.

However, real-time systems could change that equation. At the very least, these workforce system implementations will be interesting to watch in the years ahead.

Topics: CXO, Big Data, Government, Innovation

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  • Efficiency, in other words

    We will have less resources so we better allocate them and use them efficiently.

    Immigration has historically saved (or helped) the US keep moving forward. It seems likely that at some point it will not be enough. The Accenture piece seemed to ignore this.
    Schoolboy Bob
  • Efficiency is the key, in other words

    We will have less resources so we better allocate them and use them efficiently.

    Immigration has historically saved (or helped) the US keep moving forward. It seems likely that at some point it will not be enough. The Accenture piece seemed to ignore this.
    Schoolboy Bob
    • An intelligent approach to immigration could continue to help

      The current approach however is going to be a huge net drain on the economy. If the US was being run by people interested in ensuring the continued strength of the US economy, they would be encouraging and recruiting immigration of the educated class from Eastern Asia, where people seem to realize a degree in humanities or philosophy probably isn't going to be worthwhile.
      • at least a degree would denote something

        I'd take a graduate immigrant that has proven they can learn over an uneducated, soon to be on welfare, immigrant any day
  • Robotics

    ... the other 8 letter word that Accenture doesn't mention (in this article, anyway). If robots are efficient, productive and work 24/7, why hire a human? Answer: there are still many jobs only humans can do, but very soon one human + X robots will be much more cost effective than Y humans and no robots. In case you haven't guessed, X < Y by a factor of 2 or more... That's the real govt. dinosaur nightmare.
    • Human + X(Robots) = Social collapse

      Without a new economic model to ensure the 7 billion people on the earth have something to keep them out of squalor, adding robots to that kind of mix will only accelerate the declines of economies and nation states.
    • now... not soon.

      This is a *now* issue, not a scifi coming soon thing. It happened the first time someone brought up Lotus 123 on a dos monochrome screen. At that point, its just numbers, operator/accountant + x number of computers became much cheaper than accountant + x number of book keepers, scriveners, whatever.. It will accelerate in the future, and the disruption will be hard to predict because we're on the very initial part of that acceleration curve.

      Can a capitalistic society work if it only employs the top 10% of the strongest/crazyest plus the top 10% of the smartest/most-creative; and the remaining 80% stay home, flip burgers, or serve coffee??? Sounds like an epic scale disruption is working its way down the timeline.
  • A large part of our problem is political

    If the US continues in its current trajectory, things are going to be a real mess. Conservatism is what can save America, but right now, conservatives are so outflanked by liberals, it's not funny.

    First of all, completely privatizing the public school system, is what is needed to make our education system responsive, efficient, and able to attain high quality. The department of labor will probably also need to be heavily privatized, so that private contractors can respond more quickly to changes in the economy.

    The US' liberty is being threatened, because we, for all intents and purposes, no longer have a free press/media. Conservatives have allowed liberals to take over virtually all key areas of influence in our society. Liberals now own the media, and have daunting influence over universities and schools. Right now our media is not much different than the media in Russia, which is just a mouthpiece for Putin. Our own media is essentially just a mouthpiece for the left wing radical now running the White House. You know the radical who loves muslim terrorists, and is embarrassed to have Israel as an ally. The same radical who doesn't understand what all the fuss is about, as the world increasingly falls into chaos. The same radical who is openening our borders, to change the demographics of the US, in a way that favors the Democratic Party.

    What is wrong with conservatives? Conservatives must make it a point to control at least 40% of modern media. Conservatives must make it a point to engage minorities and the young. Conservatives must make it a point disrupt the left's encroaching influence on education.

    Conservatism is about is about the promulgation of ideas concerning the betterment and prosperity of humanity, which stand up to the realities of our world. Liberals are making a concerted effort to overwhelm these ideas, many times over, with their fantasies of how the world might be. These fantasies will inevitably crumble, because liberals seldom bother to temper their goals, with knowledge of how the world actually works.
    P. Douglas
    • That may or may not be what Conservatism is about

      But conservatism (small c) is mere political traditionalism, not the comprehensive ideology Conservatism (captial C) has become.

      The problem with ideology (either of the right or the left) is that presupposes that we already have all the answers.
      John L. Ries
    • The other part of it

      A fair amount of media is already under Conservative control. News Corp.'s Rupert Murdoch is usually classified as a Conservative (though he seems to lack small-c conservative virtues), if Clear Channel's political programming is any indication of the views of management, it appears to be run by Conservatives as well. I don't know what Gannet is doing in other markets, but here in southern Utah, the local Gannet owned newspaper has a decidedly conservative and Republican bent (but that just may be playing to the prejudices of the locals).

      Part of the real problem the American right faces is the tendency of devotees to keep to themselves (own media, own think tanks, own neighborhoods, etc.); to avoid exposure to any publications, programming, or opinions with which they might disagree; and to scream at those expressing differing opinions, instead of conversing with them (or even trying to persuade them); to engage in all-or-nothing thinking (which usually means they get nothing) and to write off anyone who doesn't subscribe to the full platform (even if there is agreement on some issues) In short, what used to be called the New Right, and more recently, the Conservative Movement has become a cult, rather than a political movement.

      Nobody ever persuaded anyone of anything by treating them as enemies and never will. Nobody ever converted anyone to his cause by preaching to the choir and never will. Heresy suppression doesn't convert anyone to orthodoxy; it merely drives the heresy underground (only persuasion can do that). Politics is not war and must not be allowed to become war (if it does, then people die). Rather, it is means by which communities and nations govern themselves and is facilitated much more by discussion than by efforts to marginalize and silence the opposition (which undermines the legitimacy of the whole system).
      John L. Ries
      • In what ways ...

        ... do you believe conservatives are exclusionary?
        P. Douglas
        • To the extent...

          ...that the attitude within the "movement" has become that if you're either for, against, or unprincipled (since I'm a lifelong political moderate, I'm definitely classified in the third category). That it is seen as demeaning and disloyal to work with outsiders on matters of common concern (it seems to be considered "fraternizing with the enemy"). That non-Conservatives, both voters and politicians are routinely demonized by commentators and their loyal followers alike (but interestingly enough, many are tolerant of people they actually know). In general, if people are wrong, they're wrong in good faith; not dishonest and certainly not evil.

          This is not a movement that has much interest any more in persuading outsiders of the correctness of its ideas (if you're not already in full agreement, you're not welcome). If Ronald Reagan had had that attitude, he never would have been elected Governor of California, much less President of the United States.
          John L. Ries
          • The fact you fail to

            Recognize the rabid intolerant exclusivity of the left tells me you are not, in fact, a moderate at all.
          • To follow up

            You accuse conservatives of calling those they disagree with evil while the left, including those in high political office, toss around phrases like bitter clingers, teabaggers, nazis, "typical white woman", haters, and make movies about assassinating presidents, wish Supreme Court justices would eat fatty foods and die, refer to conservative women as c*nts, tw*ts, etc! etch, etc.
          • Were you actually paying attention...

            ...when I was arguing at great length with those who defended Brendan Eich's ouster as CEO of Mozilla?

            Yes, there are plenty of intolerant leftists, but there are few Democratic politicians who would lose their primaries because they were seen as fraternizing with Republicans (or because they were caught soliciting crossover votes).
            John L. Ries
          • That and...

            ...just because certainly Democratic constituency groups have become exclusive and purist doesn't excuse the whole right wing of the Republican Party from becoming so.

            I was politically unaffiliated for 22 years because both major parties were becoming increasingly intolerant of dissent; because I pretty much had a choice between being an anti-abortion Democrat or a liberal, environmentalist Republican (at a time when both positions were becoming increasingly anathema to the mainstreams of their respective parties); and because I came to see parties as detracting from democracy instead of facilitating it. I changed course only because I came to see the exit of centrist voters from the major parties as a major contributor to the ever increasing polarization of the past 30 years and the ever-increasing irrelevance of the political center. I did this even though I know perfectly well that it is *very* difficult for a politician with my particular combination of views to be nominated by either major party in almost any contest he had a reasonable chance of winning. But I see it as better to participate in a party that at the national level wishes I didn't exist, then it is to contribute to my own political irrelevance by dropping out of the system entirely.
            John L. Ries
          • And interestingly enough...

            ...neither you or anyone else has bothered to refute my basic claims, which are:

            1. That Conservatives tend to keep to themselves and avoid associating with outsiders.

            2. That the Conservative movement has no apparent interest in persuading anyone; even those who partially, but not entirely subscribe to its platform.

            3. That it has come to see cooperation with outsiders on matters of common concern as disloyal.

            4. That it has become an all or nothing proposition. If one does not subscribe 100% to the standard platform, he is not welcome at all.

            5. That it actively seeks to discredit outside media and to discourage their use.

            6. That it views its opponents as morally deficient, rather than as merely wrong.

            The best that anyone has been able to do is to point out that Progressives are guilty of many of the same faults (which I already knew).
            John L. Ries
    • oversell

      Don't oversell privatized education. My daughter just completed 1st-8th in a well funded, responsive, private school. The benefits were substantial, but those benefits were NOT about math/science; other than an extremely tiny number of kids; most of your engineering tracked kids will end up taking their first algebra course and get a first taste of chemistry and physics with math included in 8th grade; private or no. That's just what they're ready for at that age. By the time they're a senior in high school; they're ready for a first real taste of calculus, the grand epsilon delta, and dissecting a pig or whatever.

      There is no magic wand that takes your typical engineering-track 125+ iq kid and makes them able to handle pde at the age of 17.
      • Privatizing will lead to significant improvements

        Privatizing education may not be a cure all, but it will consistently yield better results than what you are able to get from public education. Make all schools either charter or other forms of private schools, and allow kids to take their allotment of public funds to the schools of their choice.
        P. Douglas
        • That is a sure fire way for corruption.

          There is little to no way to reliably evaluate a private education center.

          What nearly always happens is that the teachers teach to the testing methodology, just to guarantee good reviews.

          The result is uneducated students.