Archive for December, 2010


December 7, 2010

Looking ahead to the New Year renews faith and optimism – faith in the ability of business to create jobs and faith in government to guide economic and social policy for the betterment of us all. Or it can bring further fear – will our economy and nation decline?

The start of every year brings challenges – existing ones and new ones. As we close out 2010, the challenge of economic growth and sustainability is of concern to everyone.

As we gaze over the landscape of social, economic and political trends shaping 2011 we find them many and varied – too many for one person to comprehend. We look into our crystal ball and offer our assessment of the top 25 tends that will shape planning and economic development actions by business and political leaders in 2011.

Trend is not destiny. The trends we describe below will certainly change over time. But they depict current trends likely to continue for some years.



1. US immigration will increase and grow proportionally larger within the overall growth of total US population.

2. Older “baby boomers” will tend to “age in place” due to decreased retirement wealth lessening retirement mobility.

3. The proportion of the Hispanic US population will increase – the Hispanic fertility rate will continue to be higher then other ethnic groups.

4. Household migration to lower taxed states in the south and west will subside, as a result of lost retirement wealth and lack of employment opportunities.

5. US immigration policy will remain a global concern as well educated entrepreneurial foreign nationals seek to migrate to the US for employment or to establish new businesses.

6. Future median US household income growth will lessen and in some communities decline as workers accept lower paying jobs absent available job opportunities.

7. The median US household saving rate will increase lessening the average amount of household spending on goods and services.



8. Every electronic communication will be recorded – George Orwell’s HAL is here!

9. Twitter will be result in instantaneous “transparency” and provide worldwide communication ahead of traditional news networks.

10. Constant instantaneous commutations will become a normal part of daily life.



11. Population will group into geographic urban concentrations due to increased journey to work trip costs and lack of efficient cost effective mass transportation for journey to work trips.

12. Locational requirements for site dependent businesses requiring large numbers of employees will favor more urban locations as population growth concentrates in a more urban clustered pattern of development.

13. Some rural and small town communities will lose population as the number of employment opportunities vanish and journey to work trip costs increase, decreasing available workforce.

14. Poverty, historically concentrated in central cities will export to exurban and suburban locations.

15. “Baby boomer” ex urban and suburban communities will forgo intergenerational family replacement decreasing school-age population within the community resulting in a different demand for community services, weakening housing demand resulting in lower housing values and greater tendency to defer housing maintenance.



16. The daily work schedule will shorten available for time leisure and family activities.

17. Alternative work arrangements will be sought by workers to control their personal daily schedule – nontraditional work schedules, working from home and telecommuting.

18. Highly skilled employees will be viewed more as subcontractors by employers who will

assemble employees into work teams that will be disbanded upon completion of assignments and reorganized/reassembled for other assignments.

19. Individual “job hopping” or progressive “job sourcing” will become an individual directed

personal long-term strategy for career advancement.

20. Entrepreneurial tendencies, especially individuals in the 30-40 year age cohort will increase; especially persons highly educated having some job task assignment experience within large firms.

21. Globally small business will create the largest number of new jobs.



22. Health care and poverty subsistence efforts will increase with goal of reducing poverty and homelessness while providing health care for all.



23. Economic globalization will be generally accepted as a way of life with recognition that no US business can exist without servicing the global marketplace, including economies that do not fully embrace “fee market” policies.

24. Fierce competition among the world’s nations will continue with China, India, Russia, and Brazil increasing their share of the world GDP.

25. National industrial policies, especially those of governmental controlled economies will influence the cost of business input including labor and natural resource commodities and provide, global business sector advantages and disadvantages.


2011 portends to be a year of changes – changes that will shape the future.   Our perspective is that changes will hasten the economic recovery during 2011 forming the basis for economic sustainability in 2012.

Predicting is always difficult – our crystal ball could be wrong . And there are no doubt trends that we have missed.

 But the 2011 path to economic recovery will be challenging.

 Clearly our identified future trends will influence the outcome of both business and political decision-making.


This was prepared with assistance of my colleague Craig Hullinger (AICP) and posted to his web site January 6, 2011