Disruption Report #56 – 96% of Jobs Are Back, Apocalyptic Inventory Levels at Walmart, and 30% of Japan’s Population Is Over 65

96% of Jobs Lost During Pandemic Are Back

According to Axios, “America’s New Labor Market,” 96% of jobs lost during the pandemic have been recaptured. However a look at the numbers shows that the recovery has not been equal across all platforms.

Not surprisingly, Transportation and Warehousing are way up. Retail employment is up too, but, interestingly, wholesale is down. It looks like companies are bypassing wholesale by appealing directly to directly through B2B websites.

Birthrate Declines in japan Get Serious

Apparently, fewer and fewer Japanese adults want to have children. 2021 saw the lowest number of births in 100 years. Imagine wanting to sell toys in that environment.

The country recorded 811,604 births and 1,439,809 deaths last year — meaning the population dropped by 628,205, the biggest natural decline since data became available

“Japan recorded record low births, biggest ever population drop in 2021“, Reuters, june 3, 2022

Japan’s birthrate has been declining for decades, and you can see the impact in this piece of data: 30% of Japan’s population is over 65. So, not only are there fewer children to play with toys but fewer adults to make them.

At the risk of stating the obvious, unless something changes to cause the birth rate to exceed the death rate, Japan will eventually cease to exist. This would be a great loss for the world.

Elon Musk, twitter

One of Japan’s population drawbacks is that it has historically resisted immigration. The country will have to change its attitude, or as Mr. Musk stated, it will cease to exist. Those in the U.S. who oppose immigration will want to take heed.

Heavy Inventories at Retail

Walmart and Target had challenging first quarter, and their stock prices show it. Both retailers, as did other companies, got a bit carried away in building inventory. As a result, they are sitting on stockpiles of goods they cannot move and are canceling orders.

How bad is it? Consider this quote from former Walmart CEO Bill Simon:

An 8% increase [in inventory] would have been high, 15% would have been terrible, 32% [at Walmart] is apocalyptic. I mean that’s billions of dollars of inventory.

Bill Simon, for Walmart ceo

Most of these over-stocks appear to be in household goods, particularly soft goods and furniture. Still, management in these companies may decide to cut back on open to buy for all categories. That could make for a less robust fourth quarter.

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