We Need More People Pulling On an Oar: Good Work, McKinsey

A smart piece in today’s Wall Street Journal outlines efforts at consultancy McKinsey & Co. to lure back to the firm women who’d left to have families. It makes perfect sense: they’re already trained and qualified, so much easier than bringing along a raw recruit. And professional firms – other consultancies like Accenture (ACN), law firms and Wall Street firms like Goldman Sachs (GS) – still struggle to lift female representation in their senior ranks.

McKinsey and other enlightened employers figure it’s worth it to make employment at their firms attractive – flexible work hours, working from home, job sharing – in exchange for attracting talented employees who otherwise might not work. That approach, of course, isn’t going to much lower the unemployment rate in the U.S., but everything that brings people into the workplace helps. In recent years, labor force participation has declined, and today we have 6.3 people, out of every ten possible, pulling on an economic oar. It’s amazing our economy performs as well as it does. Those out of the workforce who might instead be in it have been rising steadily.

US Labor Force Participation Rate Chart

US Labor Force Participation Rate data by YCharts

Better, job-focused education and more European-like training and apprenticeship programs would do more to increase labor force participation. But McKinsey’s example is worth emulating.

Jeff Bailey, The Editor of YCharts, is a former reporter, editor and columnist at the Wall Street Journal and New York Times. He can be reached at editor@ycharts.com.

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