It’s tempting and fun to make predictions for a new year, particularly when they’re optimistic. All the things are seeds now. What will they grow into?

It’s also fun to read predictions because they so often turn out to be wildly wrong. 

That said, this is a tough year for prognosticators. The challenges we face together are enormous, while the challenges we face individually feel overwhelming. And the people who have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 are, in so many cases, the same people who have been disproportionately affected by systemic barriers to their health, wealth, growth, and dignity. It makes watching the chaotic vaccine rollout even more fraught. 

So, let’s dive in. As of January 2021, the workforce is up against it:

  • The pressures of caregiving and homeschooling during the pandemic has forced women out of the workforce in devastating numbers. It will take years for them to make up lost ground.
  • Ugly politics around the census count has sown further distrust of the government and health care system. This will likely lead to undercounting that will leave vulnerable communities even more underserved going forward. 
  • All while inequality is getting worse. According to new research from the London School of Economics and the King’s College London, fifty years of “trickle down” tax cuts for the wealthy did nothing but bounce right back up to make them wealthier.
  • And while the business community’s willingness to tackle heady issues of race and inclusion have been notable this year, there are early signs that, well, not much is changing. 

So, here’s my bold prediction: Nothing will change. No change in diversity and equity, no remedies for the sick and disenfranchised, no representation for those shut out of civic life, no comfort for the lonely.

Now, what are you going to do to make me wrong?

Ellen McGirt

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