Yesterday the AP wrote about how our country’s demographics are changing. They noted that half of U.S. children younger than age one are Asian, Hispanic, black, Native American or of mixed races. The significance of this data may be that Hispanic, black, and Native American children are about twice as likely to live in poverty as white children. Unfortunately this high level of poverty is nothing new for minority communities, what is new is the potential impact this will have for the future of America’s economic competitiveness.
As the baby boomer generation ages and starts to retire en masse, this new workforce of a “minority majority” population will be responsible for the taxes necessary to keep the entitlement programs, such as Social Security and Medicare, solvent. Baby boomers retiring also means that their expertise will be leaving the workforce. This will have clear effects in all employment sectors but will be most profoundly felt in highly skilled technical jobs, of which there are many in the defense industrial base for example.
As Professor Leonard Greenhalgh of Dartmouth College put it, “You are looking at the future workforce of the United States — what we need to be competitive… and we are not educating the largest, fastest growing percentage of the U.S. workforce, so as a nation we lose competitive advantage.”
Education experts see good health as an important step for a successful education. As the AP says “Children are less likely to learn if they are ill and missing school and unable to see a doctor.” It is positive then that uninsured children are at an all time low– 7.5 percent.
In his report for ASP, August Cole notes “a well educated population is one that is more resilient economically and socially, and better able to adapt in an economy that is pushing well past its industrial paradigms into services and technology.”
In order for America to stay competitive the next generation workforce needs to be adequately educated.