2021 Uncertain Predictions
I am calling this post, 2021 Uncertain Predictions for those over 50 Years of Age. I picked this name because I do not think anyone can truly predict what 2021 will look like. What I hope to do is lay out the factors that may shape the coming year and help you plan.
What Do We Know About 2021?
We will all get older.
Plus, the vast majority of the readers of this blog have pre-existing medical conditions or have a family member that does. This fact makes you more vulnerable to catching or passing the virus on to a family member.
Vaccinations for COVID-19 will be delivered throughout 2021. How effective the vaccines will be and how smoothly they will be delivered is a big question.
Uncertainty in supply chains and manufacturing will continue throughout the first half of 2021. Check out the USA Today article American manufacturers pine for home as COVID disruptions, Trump tariffs shake up supplies.
Many industries related to hospitality, travel, and tourism will not recover in the first half of 2021.
Uncertain Predictions for 2021
Uncertain Prediction #1 – We Will Get in Line to be Vaccinated
I know that a lot of you are leery of the whole vaccination process. I have friends back in Austin who plan to wait until the 2nd half of 2021 to get vaccinated. These are primarily people in their 70s who can afford to wait this out.
My uncertain prediction is after several million healthcare workers, first responders, and nursing home residents get vaccinated, we will know whether it is safe. I am 64 years old, in really good health, and I plan to return to Austin in May to get vaccinated. My wife and I will stay for a month to get both doses of whatever vaccine is available.
Getting vaccinated will not suddenly change the world for those of you who are over 50, but if you are required to return to the office or make other choices about your careers and jobs, you can do it more safely.
Look for a podcast episode in January where I will be interviewing an employment lawyer.
I am thinking this will be one of my more controversial uncertain predictions. Comment below whether you are going to get vaccinated.
Uncertain Prediction #2 – Companies Will Require We Get Vaccinated
The federal government cannot require you to get vaccinated. It is my understanding that some state and local governments can if you are receiving services. What is more than likely to happen in industries like airlines is that they will require you to have proof of vaccination to get on an airplane going to certain locations. I certainly expect the cruise lines to do this.
Can your employer require you to get vaccinated? The answer is probably,” yes”, but it is complicated. Please read this AARP article Can Your Employer Require You to Get a COVID-19 Vaccine?
I have already had discussions with peer career coaches who have worked with older workers who are being told to return to the office. One of these individuals works with a lot of young people who do not take the pandemic as seriously as they would like. When she asked not to return to the office she was referred to human resources that told her that her other choice was to quit.
The AARP article states:
“Employment in the United States is generally ‘at will,’ which means that your employer can set working conditions,” says Dorit Reiss, a law professor at the University of California, Hastings, who specializes in legal and policy issues related to vaccines. “Certainly, employers can set health and safety work conditions, with a few limits.”
What would you do in this situation? Get vaccinated, quit, or just go back to the office?
Uncertain Prediction #3 – Hiring Will Be Slow for Much of 2021
This recession has been brutal on the 50+ population and it will get better but … slowly. I have become a big fan of the New School at the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis (SCEPA). They published a recent report A First in Nearly 50 Years, Older Workers Face Higher Unemployment Than Mid-Career Workers that paints a picture that truly depicts how the pandemic is affecting older workers.
You can download the full report here.
What does this mean to you? If you are unemployed, you should keep looking but prepare your finances such that you may be unemployed for much of 2021.
In general, companies do not invest in staff or capital in times of uncertainty. As the vaccine rollout accelerates in the middle of 2021 companies may start to feel they can hire again.
You may need to get scrappy. This means looking for a lifeboat job, something that will tide you over until this pandemic is over.
Uncertain Prediction #4 – Contract Work Will Be Normal
I have had numerous conversations with people who filled out the Career Pivot Readers survey. Many said that they have been able to get contract work but their employers are not willing to commit to when or if they will hire them full time. I am predicting that contract work will be easier to come by in 2021 but converting that into full-time employment with benefits will take time.
Many of the larger companies have withstood the brunt of the pandemic and will soon start hiring but not as full-time employees. They will want to see predictability in the markets before they are willing to commit to full-time employees.
It would not surprise me that many of these companies continue with contract employees and may never fill some of these positions with full-time employees ever again.
Uncertain Prediction #5 – New Business Formation Will Continue
There has been an explosion of business formation applications in 2020 (census.gov). I expect that to continue as more people realize that starting a business in a recession makes a lot of sense. If you have not read my post, Starting Your Own Business? What is Stopping You? then read it now.
Even if this only ends up being a side gig, this can shelter you in the future from major employment disruption.
The only person or entity you can depend on is you for your future. Take charge in these trying times.
Uncertain Prediction #6 – Remote Work Will Continue and Possibly Expand
There was a Stanford study back in June that said 42% of workers were working from home. That may be true but according to a Washington Post article, Retail workers in their 60s, 70s and 80s say they’re worried about their health — but need the money, almost 25% of all retail workers are over 55 years of age. These people cannot work from home.
If you are capable of working remotely, then you can work for anyone, anywhere. This will greatly expand your opportunities well beyond your geographical location. The issue that many will have is this is a very different kind of job search.
Your network will become even more critical in finding these opportunities.
Uncertain Prediction #7 – Supply Chains Will Continue to Morph
I live in Ajijic Mexico, less than an hour’s drive from Guadalajara. My 20-year-old Bianchi road bike is not a good fit for the Mexican roads. I wanted to buy a new bicycle but there was a problem. Almost all bicycle frames in the world are manufactured in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Coupled with the fact that I am quite tall, I found only one bicycle size 60 in the entire state of Jalisco and possibly in the entire country of Mexico.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a boom for bicycling but inventories have been cleaned out.
I predict manufacturing will continue to move out of the PRC and move to Vietnam, Mexico, and some of it will return to the United States. Unfortunately, most of the manufacturing that returns to the U.S. will come with no jobs as automation will do all of the work.
Similarly, we will continue to see distribution centers pop up in urban and suburban areas but they will be lights out operations, i.e. fully automated with few jobs.
Disruption is the New Normal
COVID-19 has disrupted just about every facet of the world’s economy. Every one of my uncertain predictions would not have been on anyone’s list of predictions 12 months ago.
Disruption has become the new normal and we had best learn to cope with it by getting nimble and scrappy.
Did I miss anything in my uncertain predictions? Comment below about what I missed.Marc Miller
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