Future

The big picture: Inconsistent wages are top concern for workers

Walmart employee pushes grocery carts at a Walmart store. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Amid a stagnating wages crisis, income volatility continues to be a top concern for workers.

Why it matters: This concern is spreading so rapidly that large employers like Walmart are looking for ways to help their employees better manage inconsistent income and personal finances. Walmart revealed on Thursday that more than 200,000 of its employees are now using Even, a system to help workers access their earned wages in between paychecks if they're short on cash for bills.

The world is staying healthy longer

The average number of years babies born around the world are expected to live without any serious medical or health issues increased by about 5 years since 2000.

Data: World Health Organization; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Why it matters: The developed world is having fewer children and will soon have a much larger population of retired, elderly people with health care needs. This is likely to cause significant financial strain on government programs and the labor force in many countries. But if people are staying healthy longer, it could lessen some of those economic impacts.

Japan: A study of extreme shrinking and aging

Kimiko Nishimoto, a Japanese great-grandmother, in her Kumamoto home. Photo: Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty

Japan is in a population shrinkage crisis like no other developed nation. According to forecasts, its numbers are plummeting, though by how much is disputed.

The optimistic projection is by the United Nations, which says the number of Japanese will fall by about a third by the end of the century, to about 85 million. More pessimistically, Japan's own National Institute of Population and Social Security Research projects a population under 50 million by 2100.