business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Several studies came out yesterday that I thought were worth highlighting, with some commentary.

•  The Washington Post has a story about a significant demographic change:  more women in the US are single than are married.  

The number of single women in the US stands at 52 percent, according to a new Wells Fargo study.  "The census bureau has been tracking Americans’ marital status since at least 1900, when just 7 percent of surveyed women were single," the Post writes.  "Among the factors driving the rapid rise in single-women households over the last decade: A 20 percent increase in the number of women who have never married.

"But while decades of changing norms around marriage and work have empowered women to carve their own paths, a stubborn wage gap continues to keep many women, especially single mothers, from enjoying the same economic gains as single men and married couples. Never-married women earned just 92 percent of what never-married men did last year, and have 29 percent less wealth, Wells Fargo economists found."

“The sheer growth of single women is rippling across the economy and leaving a mark on the labor market, wealth and spending,” Sarah House, senior economist at Wells Fargo and lead author of the report, tells the Post. “The bad news, though, is that the wage gap [between men and women] has remained stuck over the past 15 years. Single women are filling a void in a very tight labor market, but they are still earning less than single men.”

Which says more about the men who are running the companies where those women work, and toxic cultures that have been allowed to fester, than it does about the single women.

•  Eagle Hill Consulting is out with research saying that there is a high level of concern among U.S. workers about a recession:  "Sixty-one percent of workers report concerns, with more women concerned about a recession (68 percent) than men (55 percent)."

In addition, the firm has research saying that "while only a small portion of workers are concerned about layoffs (33 percent), employees reported clear views on how to handle worker layoffs. Eighty-five percent say layoffs via email are wrong. Instead, employees say they prefer an in-person meeting (72 percent) to provide notification of a layoff."

Also from Eagle Hill, research shows that "levels of employee burnout among the U.S. workforce remain high but are trending downward since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly half (46 percent) of American employees say they are burned out from their jobs."

"Burnout has fallen slightly since last year (49 percent in August 2022) and more substantially since the early months of the pandemic (58 percent in August 2020). Younger workers (51 percent) and women (48 percent) continue to report higher levels of burnout, although their levels also have dipped. 

"As for the top sources of burnout, workers say it’s their workload at 52 percent, which is up from 48 percent in August 2022. Staffing shortages follows at 44 percent. Nearly three-fourths of workers (71 percent) say a four-day work week would alleviate stress, followed by increased flexibility (66 percent)."

To me, these numbers highlight the importance of companies creating cultures of caring, in which they understand that, if they really believe that their employees are essential assets, they need to nurture their aspirations and deal with their fears.  Treat employees as disposable, and they'll feel exactly the same way about the company for which they work.

•  USA Today reports that a new Ipsos poll that it commissioned "finds that 56% of Americans — including 51% of independents — say the term 'woke' means 'to be informed, educated on, and aware of social injustices … 39% of Americans — and 45% of independents — believe it means 'to be overly politically correct and police others' words'."

If 56 percent think "woke" means one thing, and 39 percent think it means the opposite, I think it means that five percent believe that it is a stupid argument and that there are a lot more important things to talk about.

Now that's an Eye-Opener.  Sign me up as part of the five percent.