Demographic Changes

In the report “America’s Perfect Storm – Three Forces Changing Our Nation’s Future”, the authors argue that three forces – substantial achievement gaps, economic restructuring and demographic changes- are each powerful in their own right.  But together, the result over time is a perfect storm.  The first two forces have already been identified as complex problems.  However, demographic changes may be as powerful.

Three Forces Are Changing Our Nation’s Future:

Inadequate literacy and numeracy skills among large segments of our student and adult population

An ongoing shift in demographic profile of our population, powered by the highest immigration rates in nearly a century

The continuing evolution of the economy and the nation’s job structure, requiring higher levels of skills from an increasing proportion of workers

 Source:  America’s Perfect Storm, Educational Testing Service, 2007.



The U.S. population is expected to grow from nearly 300 million in 2005 to 360 million in 2030.  Over this period, our population will become increasingly older and more diverse.  A large portion of the increase (31%) is predicted due to immigration. 

Using demographic projections combined with current skill projections, the authors estimate the average skill levels in literacy and numeracy will decline in the working age population by 5 percent and inequality (achievement gap) will have increased by about 7%.

Over the next 25 years, as better educated persons leave the workforce, they will be replaced by persons who on average will have lower levels of education and skill.  In the same time period, approximately half of the job growth will be in jobs that require higher education and skill levels.  Americans will be competing for these higher paying jobs with new immigrants or workers in lower-wage economies throughout the world.  The bottom line is that the new global economy will require Americans to have higher education and skills to compete. 


 Kirsh, et al, America’s Perfect Storm:  Three Forces Changing Our Nation’s Future, Educational Testing Services (ETS), Princeton, NJ, 2007.














Identifying the Problem