Total working hours are declining across the developed world, but strong demand for highly skilled workers is pushing their working hours up. The labor force participation rate for US men age 64 in 2012 was 21 percentage points higher for male college graduates vs. male high school graduates. Higher-income workers worked 77% more hours in 2006 vs. 1979, while the bottom 20% of income earners, for whom demand is decreasing, have seen a 39% decline over the same period.
Karen Harris is managing director of Bain & Company’s Macro Trends Group and is based in the firm’s New York office. Austin Kimson is director of Bain’s Macro Trends Group and is based in the Dallas office. Andrew Schwedel is a partner in the New York office.
The business environment of the 2020s will be more volatile and economic swings more extreme.