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The Changing Workplace
After studying this section of the chapter, you will be able to:
• Explain how the US economy is changing and how these changes relate to
• Describe various factors that affect today’s workplace.
The US workplace is continually changing. New types of jobs are
created each year. New tools and processes help people work faster
and more effi ciently. Company owners and employees have new
ideas about how to fi nd customers and how work should be done.
Technological advances have lead to an increase in jobs that require
highly skilled workers.
When the economy is strong, demand is high for goods and
services. To meet this demand, employers keep their businesses fully
staffed. Sometimes their employees will work overtime. Workers
spend their earnings more freely when the fear of unemployment is
low. They do not worry about losing their jobs.
A weak economy, sometimes called a recession, can cause many
employees to lose their jobs. During periods of economic uncertainty,
the fear of unemployment causes consumers to cut back on their
spending. Less money is spent on items that are not really needed,
such as movie tickets, music downloads, and eating out. Consumers
may even postpone buying necessary items.
A widespread slowdown in purchasing will cause employee
cutbacks in an industry. For example, if clothing sales decrease, there
is less need to put new fashions on display. Consequently, there is
less need for salesclerks in the stores, less need for truckers to move
the inventory, and less need for other workers who help get clothes
to market. When economic downturns are prolonged, the weak
business in one industry usually affects others. When a recession
goes on for several years, it is sometimes referred to as an economic
What does a
workforce say about
society as a whole?