by Gary Alexander

January 28, 2020

The employment data just keeps getting better, month by month and week by week. For instance, the number of Americans filing claims for unemployment benefits dropped for a fifth straight week last week. On February 7th we’ll see the first jobs report for the 2020s, but sometimes we focus too much on the job changes from one month to the next. We ignore the long-term trend, which, in this case, is an incredible job-creation machine that has absorbed 100 million new human beings without a major pause in 60 years.

Job creation is a huge source of America’s leadership and growth since 1945, so let’s look at the data:

#1: The first big wave, of course, was the Baby Boomers, born just after World War II. There was a “birth dearth” during the 1930s, in what is termed “The Silent Generation” (those born 1928 to 1945), but after the war, giddy newlyweds created a median three children per household, netting 73 million American babies from 1946 to 1964, the greatest percentage and number of newborns in U.S. history.

Those newborns entered the Labor Force after high school (1964 to 1982 graduation years) or college (1968 to 1986) and they reach age 65 in 2011 to 2029, so their peak labor years were about 1986 to 2011 when all living 72 million were of working age. That’s the first major wave – the 70+ million Boomers.

#2: The second wave is a surge of foreign-born immigrants beginning at the same time, around 1970. Like the Baby Boomers, this immigrant wave followed a slowdown of population growth in previous years. Census data shows under 10 million foreign-born immigrants in the 1960 and 1970 censuses, rising to over 30 million in 2000 and 40 million in 2010, with perhaps 45 million in the upcoming 2020 census.

United States Immigrants Bar Chart

Graphs are for illustrative and discussion purposes only. Please read important disclosures at the end of this commentary.

This wave of immigrants amounts to another 35 million or so new people to employ since 1970.

#3: The third wave of new workers are women moving out of the house and into the Labor Force for the first time. In the latest jobs report, for December 2019, women outnumbered men in employee roles for the first time. After the feminist revolution began in the late 1960s, women flocked to the job market far faster than men. From 1950 to 2000, women added 47.2 million jobs vs. only 32.4 million new jobs for men – about three new female jobs per two new male jobs for 50 years.

Civilian Labor Force, Men & Women, 1950 to 2000

United States Workers Table

Last month, 76.2 million women were employed, a 314% increase since 1950 vs. only 74% more men working. Women also began going to college on an equal basis with men in the 1970s, reaching parity in college degrees in the early 1980s and then surpassing men greatly (57% to 43%) by Y2K:

College Degrees by Gender and Gap Charts

Graphs are for illustrative and discussion purposes only. Please read important disclosures at the end of this commentary.

We can see this trend toward professionalism among women everywhere we look. As Melinda Gates reminds us in the January 2020 issue of FORTUNE, women make up 40% of all physicians and surgeons, 39% of all computer systems analysts, 37% of lawyers, and 71% of human resources managers. The only reason they comprise “only” 28% of corporate CEOs is that it takes two or three decades of climbing the corporate ladder to reach the top rung, but they should reach 50% by 2030.

In the latest nationwide Class of 2019, women were awarded 54.9% of Doctorate degrees, 62.1% of Master’s, and 59.2% of Bachelor’s degrees while making up about 57% of all college students.

Degree Breakdown by Type Table

I count all three of these “waves” as positive achievements since human beings are – in the words of the late economist Julian Simon – our “Ultimate Resource.” Japan had no Baby Boom or immigrant wave. They have a lot of working women, but they are paid 40% less than men and only 10% have a management position. That is one reason why Japan’s economy has stagnated for the last 30 years.

The Incredible 80-Year Record of 15 Million Jobs Added Per Decade

Going back before those three waves of immigrants, Baby Boomers, and liberated women, the post-Depression era back-to-work wave of the 1940s and 1950s also created a major job creation surge.

Total United States Employees Chart

Graphs are for illustrative and discussion purposes only. Please read important disclosures at the end of this commentary.

Here are the numbers, by decade:

Total United States Employment Numbers by Decade Table

We’re not having many children, and the world is having fewer children, too. That’s no big problem now, but in 15 or 20 years, who will be entering the work force to help pay for our retirement? The world’s peak birth rate was 5.04 children per woman in 1963. It has declined to 2.43 now (2.1 is zero growth).

Total United States Fertility Rate Chart

Graphs are for illustrative and discussion purposes only. Please read important disclosures at the end of this commentary.

With women entering the work force in the 1970s, the birth rate dropped in half, from 3.6 babies per woman in 1960 to 1.8 in 1975. Last year, the rate dipped to 1.7. In South Korea it has fallen to 0.88.

Zero population growth or the “one child” policy is the goal of the neo-Malthusians, who warned us about the “Population Bomb” in 1968, but that “bomb” created a lot of growth. Today’s birth dearth will slow that engine down later on. We’ll see how that drama plays out in the 2030s, but until then, enjoy growth – thanks to this rise in willing workers and entrepreneurial employers – the ultimate growth machine.

All content above represents the opinion of Gary Alexander of Navellier & Associates, Inc.

Please see important disclosures below.

About The Author

Gary Alexander

Gary Alexander has been Senior Writer at Navellier since 2009.  He edits Navellier’s weekly Marketmail and writes a weekly Growth Mail column, in which he uses market history to support the case for growth stocks.  For the previous 20 years before joining Navellier, he was Senior Executive Editor at InvestorPlace Media (formerly Phillips Publishing), where he worked with several leading investment analysts, including Louis Navellier (since 1997), helping launch Louis Navellier’s Blue Chip Growth and Global Growth newsletters.

Prior to that, Gary edited Wealth Magazine and Gold Newsletter and wrote various investment research reports for Jefferson Financial in New Orleans in the 1980s.  He began his financial newsletter career with KCI Communications in 1980, where he served as consulting editor for Personal Finance newsletter while serving as general manager of KCI’s Alexandria House book division.  Before that, he covered the economics beat for news magazines. All content of “Growth Mail” represents the opinion of Gary Alexander

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