Review of 2018 Predictions: Trends Impacting Labor, Management, and the Workplace

In February 2018 we published a two-part series outlining trends we predicted for labor and management during the year. It’s now time to look back at those articles and see how we did.

Our predictions for 2018 were:

Real wages should continue to increase in 2018, but at a reduced rate.  Result: Correct, but at a lower rate than most thought.

Last February we reported The Economic Research Institute prediction of a 3.2% increase in wages during 2018. Unfortunately, this forecast was overly optimistic. The rate of increase not only slowed significantly from 2017, in some cases it nearly disappeared entirely.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a 0.8% increase in real wages between November 2017 and 2018. Although some politicians claimed their economic and tax policies would result in higher wages for the middle class, it did not happen.

Bonuses are replacing real wage increases. Result: The trend subsided as the hype of the tax reform act dissipated, but bonuses were not renewed.

As a result, wage increases that supposedly were the result of tax reform are now gone. The illusion of a pay increase they created now holds down current earnings.

Critical thinking and data-based decision making are disappearing skills. Result: Unfortunately, true.

Actions based on self-created perceptions continue to dominate over facts and reality. As we wrote last year, few things can be more harmful in our workplaces or lives

CALMC strongly supports data-based decision making based on access to all relevant information. Critical analysis of claims and the use of problem-solving tools remain essential.

The pressure for “Right to Work” will expand. Result: Mixed.

One of the big stories in labor relations in 2018 was the Supreme Court decision in Janus to eliminate fair-share fees in the public sector. The result of this is yet to be determined, but in 2018, no state adopted new right-to-work legislation. In Missouri, an attempt to implement this action was blocked by voters. In Ohio and some other states, efforts to push right-to-work failed in legislatures.

One concern in this area is the conservative Supreme Court further reversing worker gains in other right-to-work cases.

Labor relations will become more contentious. Result: Correct, but there are some signs of this trend beginning to change.

Management has certainly become more emboldened by the political climate, declines in union membership, and the elimination of worker protections implemented before 2017. We have, however, begun to see some increased interest in cooperative labor-management relations. It is not a big enough swing to become a trend yet, but we are hopeful it will grow for the benefit of both management and labor.

The National Labor Relations Board will become more employer-friendly. Result: Correct.

The Trump appointees to the NLRB have been successful at weakening or eliminating rules protecting employee right.

The decline in Union membership may bottoming out. Result: Uncertain.

The 2018 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics is not yet available as of this writing.

Automation will become an increasing issue in the workplace and place new pressures on labor and management and in negotiations. Result: Correct, and increasing.

There is no doubt, increased automation. The speed of its adoption and its impact on society need to be carefully considered.

Employment will increase in 2018, but at a slow rate. Result: Correct.

The US unemployment rate fell below 4% during 2018, although economists argue whether this is the result of more jobs of fewer people in the workforce. We do know the number of unemployed Ohioans dropped by 18,000 in 2018, while the number of people in the workforce decreased by 17,000.

Employers will have more difficulty in finding new employees. Result: Correct.

As the unemployment rate and the size of the workforce drop, it has become harder to find employees. This has not resulted in the kind of pay increases seen in the past.

Companies focus on upskilling and retraining current workers.  Result: Mixed.

Employers have become more concerned with retaining existing staff, and one way to do this is to create a career ladder leading to improved opportunities for existing employees.

Employers are beginning to understand the link between training and employee involvement with employee satisfaction.

Still, many employers offer little or no training opportunity. According to the US Bureau of Labor statistics, companies with fewer than 100 employees only averaged 12 minutes of management training every six months, and those with 100-500 employees provide only 6 minutes of management training every six months.

 Leaders must encourage more human interaction.  Result: Mixed.

As is the case with training, human interaction levels vary widely by employer.

There will be increased opportunities for real employee engagement.  Result: True.

The opportunities for employee engagement are there, as are the benefits derived from involvement. It is up the employers and employees to make the most of opportunities for involvement.

It looks like we did well with our predictions. (Of course, I am biased about that.) Keep watching in the next few weeks and we will post our outlook for 2019.

In the meantime, does your organization need help with developing communications, problem solving, and workplace improvement skills? CALMC has helped many organizations, and we can help you. Take a moment to look at our website,, and contact us to discuss ways we can help your organization.

About CALMC Blog

Columbus Area Labor-Management Committee is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to involving employers and employees to preserve jobs, resolve workplace issues, and promote labor-management cooperation. Visit our website at
This entry was posted in CALMC, Columbus Area Labor-Management Committee, Conflict Resolution, Data-Based Decision Making, Employee Engagement, Employee Involvement, Employee Training, Labor-Management Committees, Labor-Management Cooperation, Problem Solving, Right to Organize, Trends in Labor-Management Relations, Worker Voice and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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