Look At The Future

As I begin to write this column at 3:13 PM on Wednesday, January 12, 2005, the U.S. Census Bureau projects that 295,238,674 is the current resident population of the United States. What will the population be by the time I finish writing the column and by the time you read it?
According to the Bureau, if you want to know the projected population at anytime after 3:13 PM on Wednesday, January 12, 2005, there is a way you can figure it out. There is an average of one birth in the U.S. every eight seconds, one death every 13 seconds, and one international migrant every 26 seconds. The total of these components shows a net gain in the U.S. population of one person every 12 seconds.
In the year 2000, major forecasters told us that by 2005 the population would be around 288 million. We have now supposedly surpassed that. These same forecasters predicted a population of 300 million by 2010, but that number more than likely will be surpassed. Does this mean that people are having more children than ever before? No. It is estimated that only about 19.5 million infants and preschoolers are currently included in the population count. This number is only expected to increase to 20 million by 2010. Couples are having fewer children, with some opting for none at all (unless their parents can talk them into providing grandchildren). 
So where is the growth coming from? Well, if you consider the U.S. Bureau statistics and read info from the Department of Social Security, you will see that we have approximately 37.5 million people in the U.S. today who are 65 and older. This is predicted to grow to 40 million by 2010, to 54 million by 2020, and up to 70 million by 2030. In comparison, school-age children (5-17) total about 51.7 million today, and this will rise to only around 51.9 million by 2010. Longer life spans are boosting the population. If the mortality rates had stayed at the 1900 levels, the population today would be under 140 million rather than over 295 million and growing. But, as we fully know, the mortality rates have changed considerably and are continuing to change.
Young adults (18-34) today total about 66.5 million, rising to around 69 million by 2010. Baby boomers (35-54) born after World War II total approximately 82.5 million today. The prediction for 2010 is about 83.5 million. The empty nesters (55-64) will jump from the current 30 million to a predicted 35 million by 2010.
What does all of this mean? Well, it means that retail businesses, hospitality groups, churches, television and film producers, publishers, hospitals, nursing homes, and other groups need to take into consideration the changing demographics. If your organization doesn’t pay attention to what is happening, some other organization will. And one thing that sticks out as something more and more in demand by the emerging population is “convenience.” Successful marketers for both profit and non-profit organizations see America’s desire for convenience as a key element. 
And, according to “The Kiplinger Letter,” it is not just the older age brackets that desire convenience.  The newsletter reports that single-parent families and two-earner households demand it.  For single parents, there is just not enough time to earn a living, care for children, and keep house. The two-earner households are willing and able to spend a large amount of their incomes on products and services that save time on such chores as cooking, shopping, cleaning, and running errands. They’re eager to devote more non-working hours to recreation and relaxation. Single and two-earner households also have more responsibilities today as caretakers of elderly parents.
It’s good to study the future and to have some idea of what’s coming in various areas. In the words of the late Charles F. Kettering, distinguished research scientist for General Motors: “My interest is in the future because I am going to spend the rest of my life there.”  
Carl Mays, author of over a dozen books and speaker at over 2500 events, can be contacted at carlmays@carlmays.com or 865-436-7478. His books, including “A Strategy For Winning,” “People of Passion,” “Anatomy Of A Leader” and “Are We Communicating Yet?” are available in stores, at www.carlmays.com, and on www.amazon.com. 


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