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A Looming Economic Challenge People Aren’t Aware Of

Published Wednesday May 18, 2022

A Looming Economic Challenge People Aren’t Aware Of

The global labor market will soon stop growing. By 2030 alone, the five biggest industrialized nations – China, Germany, the U.S., U.K. and Japan – will lose around 30 million people of working age. However, in the U.S., only 10% of the general public is aware of this impending labor crisis. These insights come from a global study by the StepStone Group for which the German recruiting platform, the British job platform Totaljobs and U.S. recruitment technology provider Appcast, surveyed a total of 20,000 people, including more than 1,500 corporate decision-makers.

"A new era is beginning in the labor market. For the first time in recent history, the number of people in the workforce will fall rather than rise. This has serious consequences for our economy and the standard of living of every individual," says StepStone CEO Sebastian Dettmers. "We all need to be much louder about this. And work together at full speed on solutions to safeguard our prosperity.”

Eight out of ten people worldwide misjudge threat

Demographic change has long been a topic of discussion among experts. Nevertheless, the public is largely unaware of how dramatic the development is. In fact, 80% of those surveyed worldwide misjudge the extent of the shrinking workforce. Even among corporate decision-makers, just a quarter are aware of what lies ahead for the economy and society. But once they are aware of the trend, a broad majority, almost 70%, see this as a clear problem and see a need for action.

"Alongside the climate crisis, the demographic reversal in the labor market is the greatest economic and societal challenge of the 21st century. We want to make the threat visible and prevent labor shortages from catching us unprepared. We can still act," says Dettmers.

Numerous paths exist to navigate labor shortage

If fewer people are going to be working in the future, solutions will be needed to compensate. For example, 64% of respondents worldwide believe automation of tasks would be an effective solution. The situation is different when a higher retirement age is proposed as a solution, only 46% of respondents welcome this path. Immigration and integration of foreign workers, on the other hand, offer new opportunities and are clearly supported by 55% of respondents worldwide.

"Another key is to ensure greater equality in global labor markets," says Dettmers. "There has long been no room for discrimination or inequality of opportunity in job markets. In times of labor shortage, there's a new component: we simply can't afford to disadvantage people and leave their potential untapped." 

About the survey

The global labor market is experiencing a turning point. The age of “unemployment” is beginning. This is shown, among other things, by the UN forecasts on population development. With this international study, the StepStone Group wants to create awareness for the coming developments and possible options for action. For this purpose, StepStone conducted a survey among around 20,000 workers in the U.S., U.K., Germany and China in the period from December 2021 to January 2022. The aim was to decode whether the demographic challenge has reached people's consciousness, how possible solutions are assessed, and what differences there are in four of the world's five most important economies. For more information:

About the figures on population development

Population figures are from the 2019 Revision of World Population Prospects – official United Nations population estimates and projections prepared by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Source: United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2019). World Population Prospects 2019, Online Edition. Rev. 1.

About StepStone

StepStone is a leading digital recruitment platform that connects companies with the right talent and helps people find the right job. StepStone connects more than 100 million job applicants with over 150,000 employers every year. With its integrated platform, StepStone automates the recruitment process and offers AI-based solutions that cover the entire recruitment process – from sourcing to engaging and hiring. In fiscal year 2021, Stepstone generated revenues of around 800 million euros. StepStone operates in more than 20 countries - including with StepStone in Germany, with Appcast in the USA and Totaljobs in the U.K. The company is headquartered in Düsseldorf, Germany and employs around 3,700 people worldwide.

About Appcast

Appcast is the global leader in programmatic recruitment advertising technology and services. With advanced technology, unmatched market data and a team of the industry’s best recruitment marketers, Appcast’s technology and services manage job advertising annually on behalf of more than 1,500 clients. Headquartered in Lebanon, N.H. with offices in Boston, Mass. and New Brunswick, Canada, Appcast is a subsidiary of StepStone, a leading digital recruitment platform that connects companies with the right talent and helps people find the right job. To learn more, visit and follow on Twitter @appcast_io.

About TotalJobs

Totaljobs is one of UK’s leading job boards, attracting 12 million visits and 3 million applications from qualified jobseekers every month. 130,000 new candidates register with us each month who have an average of 170,000 jobs a month to choose from, posted by thousands of employers including Amazon, Sky, Virgin Media, DHL amongst many others. We were formed in 1999 and we are part of Totaljobs Group Ltd, the largest and fastest growing UK job board company in the UK. Our head office is in London, and we also have offices in Birmingham, Cardiff, Leeds, Manchester, Nottingham and Glasgow. In turn, Totaljobs Group Ltd is a significant division of StepStone Group, one of the largest job board companies in the world and a subsidiary of Axel Springer Digital Classifieds.

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