Demographic Domination

We’ve all heard the old adage you can’t fight city hall. That may or may not be true, but adapting that adage to say you can’t fight demographics is certainly true. There was a speaker, Dr. James Johnson form the University of North Carolina, at the recent AICPA Fall Council meeting that talked about six disruptive demographic trends. Those trends are:

  •  The South rises again – the South has been outpacing the rest of the U.S. for decades in population growth and there are no indications this will change in the foreseeable future. But even in the South the growth has not been even. Instead it has been concentrated in four states – Texas, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina.
  • The browning of America – Virtually all (92%) of the population growth in the last decade was non-white. In addition, the non-Hispanic white fertility rate has been 1.9, below the replacement rate of 2.1, for the last two decades.

And it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that these first two trends are linked. Those of us in the South can look around the new neighborhoods being built to hold all of the new people and our growing schools and see that the population is booming and it doesn’t look like the traditional cities of middle America.

  • Marrying out is in – The percentage of people married to someone of a different race rose from 3% in 1980 to 8% in 2010.

I look at my kids and they are truly colorblind. I don’t think we have ended racism in this country, but I think we are far better than most of the world on the subject and the millennials are quickly eliminating the remaining vestiges of racism in our country. .

  • The Silver Tsunami is about to hit – Let’s not forget about those baby boomers. They are hitting age 65 at the tune of 8,000 – 10,000 a day, and will do so for the next two decades. The baby boomers will continue to impact the economy in new and different ways as they age.
  • The end of men (?) – the inflation adjusted median wage (not average, but mid-point) has dropped by $13,000 in the last 40 years (per one estimate), and men have made up less than half of the college graduates over the last 20 years.
  • Cooling water from grandma’s well – we are seeing a significant rise in the percentage of households where grandparents are raising grandchildren.

All of these trends will significantly impact the economy and workforce in the coming decades. Next week we will talk about what the accounting profession can do to embrace these changes and make them work for the profession rather than against it.

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