Our Charting the Path to the Next Normal series offers a daily chart that helps explain a changing world—as we strive for sustainable, inclusive growth. Here we’ve curated 22 of this year’s best data visualizations that have illuminated some of the key themes and trends covered in our publishing—inflation, geopolitical upheaval, evolving health priorities, inclusion, net zero, digital trust, and more. Together, they capture a lot of what our collective next normal looked and felt like in 2022. Browse through the charts below to learn more about the storylines that could resonate well beyond this year.
Resilience becomes essential
Leaders continue to confront multiple crises: a geopolitical conflict, rising inflation, the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and talent turnover. The challenges have called for broad resilience frameworks.
The year kicked off with a big hole in the US labor market. The number of job openings (10.9 million) exceeded the number of new hires (6.3 million), as people continued to quit their jobs—often without another one lined up. According to our survey, uncaring leaders, unsustainable expectations of performance, and lack of career advancement were key reasons employees left the workforce. What lured workers back? Workplace flexibility and adequate compensation topped the list.
The war in Ukraine prompted a swift response from corporations. By the end of April, 70 percent of the Fortune 500 companies operating in Russia prior to the invasion opted to leave or scale back their business once the conflict began. The exodus spanned multiple sectors, such as industrials, consumer goods and services, and energy and materials. The corporate response indicates that, more than ever, core management choices are being shaped by a set of stakeholders beyond investors, including employees and customers.
In inflationary times, investors often turn toward commodities because their prices reflect the demand for raw materials needed for economic expansion. After the COVID-19 pandemic punctured the global economy, government stimulus helped push commodity prices back to their 2010 average and then higher. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sent prices higher still, with the cost of energy, crops, metals, and more affected by the conflict. Due to shortages of natural gas and rising demand from farmers, fertilizer had the sharpest rise.
As the Great Attrition went on unabated, with quit rates 25 percent higher than prepandemic levels, organizations found they couldn’t rely on old ways to attract and retain talent, as the same types of workers weren’t always available to fill those roles. Only 35 percent of people who left their jobs since the start of the pandemic took another one in the same industry. Companies that expand their talent-sourcing approach can expect better success for drawing different types of workers.
Anxiety about inflation caused consumer confidence to plummet in the United States. However, our research on consumer spending from this summer revealed that some categories were experiencing double-digit growth, including grocery stores (sales up 12 percent), cosmetics (up 16 percent), and pet supplies (up 11 percent). The data suggest that, during inflationary times, companies can still make intentional bets for longer-term growth. Click through the interactive to compare US consumer spending in different categories.
After yet another year of unexpected turbulence, one word was on leaders’ lips: resilience. Past crises have shown that resilient organizations bounce back better—and even thrive—during times of disruption. Companies categorized as more resilient generated greater shareholder value than less-resilient peers across the entire life cycle of the major economic shocks of the past two decades, including the financial crisis of 2007–09 and the COVID-19 pandemic. To work toward sustainable, inclusive growth in these times, organizations can consider a new approach to resilience—one that is more adaptable to disruptions and changes.
Health priorities evolve beyond the pandemic
The COVID-19 crisis upended businesses and transformed health systems. As certain parts of the world shift from the pandemic to endemic stage, leaders across public and private sectors are exploring new ways of improving health outcomes.
Looking back at mid-2021, portions of the globe had inched toward the endemic stage of COVID-19, largely due to the virus becoming widespread and the availability of vaccine boosters and therapeutics (antibody treatments, for example). McKinsey’s COVID-19 Immunity Index, designed to assess a community’s current level of risk and degrees of protection over time, pointed to a drop in immunity levels in the winter of 2021–22 in several countries as the Omicron variant spread. We also observed that vaccination remained an essential element in building immunity.
Healthcare providers and policy makers are keeping a watchful eye on the lingering COVID-19 pandemic. With tests, vaccines, and treatments for the virus more readily available in the United States, leaders are eyeing broader health issues in hopes of laying a foundation for more resilient and equitable public health systems. This may be facilitated by capturing some of the $4 billion in grants provided to public health departments by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To identify states’ most pressing health needs, McKinsey created its interactive United States of Health Dashboard, highlighting key metrics such as maternal health and chronic disease.
Virtual health services soared with the onset of the COVID-19 crisis—telehealth visits rose more than 3,000 percent early in the pandemic. Continued investment in innovation around these services is essential—approximately $250 billion in outpatient spend has the potential to shift to virtual settings for office visits, urgent care, and home health services. McKinsey surveys also showed that satisfied patients using these models are 28 percent less likely than patients who don’t to switch healthcare providers and are up to six times more likely to see that provider for other healthcare services.
As the COVID-19 crisis dragged into its third year, it further strained a healthcare workforce already stretched to capacity. A third of surveyed nurses indicated an intention to leave direct patient care, largely due to insufficient staffing levels. The pandemic brought to light opportunities to design and deploy potential strategies for addressing staffing shortages and elevating the role of nursing.
Inclusion opportunities abound
What does a more inclusive economy look like? Institutions across business, government, and society are taking action, but there’s more work to be done.
Black-owned beauty brands attract a fraction of the venture capital (VC) funding that non-Black-owned brands do: of the 213 VC-backed beauty companies in our research, Black brands comprise only 4 percent of late-stage VC investments. Despite the paucity of funding, Black beauty companies today have a median income that is 89 times higher than that of non-Black beauty brands. These findings highlight that racial inequity in the beauty industry is a $2.6 billion opportunity. Better serving Black consumers and supporting Black beauty brands could also lead to greater equity across the entire beauty industry.
Companies are increasingly adopting a range of allyship efforts to draw a more diverse workforce, recognizing that in doing so, they expand their talent pool, boost employee engagement, and improve insight into a broader range of customers. But diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies sometimes fall short. Almost a third of surveyed LGBTQ+ employees reported experiencing microaggressions in the workplace, such as being interrupted, having their judgment questioned, or being cautious when talking about their personal lives.
Ignoring or failing to address toxic behavior at work comes with a high price. Research by the McKinsey Health Institute found that well over half of negative workplace outcomes, such as burnout and distress, were attributable to toxic behavior at work. Organizations that don’t address the issue must deal with turnover: more than 70 percent of survey respondents indicated their intent to leave due to toxic workplace behavior alone.
Frontline workers are critical to nearly all sectors of the US economy, a fact that the COVID-19 pandemic helped bring into focus. But these workers face the greatest hardship from economic disruption, and industries with low-paying frontline jobs (food services, for instance) are overrepresented by workers of color. Frontline jobs with higher-paying roles, however, such as utilities, are overrepresented by White workers.
Women leaders are switching jobs at the highest rates we’ve ever seen. According to McKinsey’s latest Women in the Workplace report, women—and especially women of color—remain dramatically underrepresented in leadership roles in corporate America. If companies don’t take action, they risk losing not only their current women leaders but also the next generation of women leaders, as young women are even more ambitious and place a higher premium on working in an equitable, supportive, and inclusive workplace.
Net zero has new urgency
The conflict in Ukraine and a volatile global economy may have complicated the net-zero transition, but the need to scale up climate solutions has never been more apparent. There’s an opportunity for bold leaders to build green businesses and protect the planet.
The net-zero transition could cost about $275 trillion in cumulative spending on physical assets—or approximately $9.2 trillion per year, according to our analysis. That cumulative figure is $25 trillion more than the current policies scenario. The transition to lower-emissions assets could impact multiple sectors, with three sector groups—mobility, power, and buildings—accounting for approximately 75 percent of the total spending on physical assets.
The path toward net zero will lead to a surge in demand—and therefore unprecedented opportunities—for low-emissions offerings. More than $12 trillion in annual sales is expected in 11 value pools such as transport, hydrogen, and power by 2030. This transformation of the global economy could create significant growth potential for climate technologies and solutions.
What could the net-zero transition in the US look like? We mapped out a pathway that spans multiple sectors. Significant shifts include a zero-emissions power sector by 2035, electric vehicles comprising 75 percent of all new-car sales by 2030, and an 80 percent reduction of oil and gas methane by 2030. Such a transformation of the US economy won’t be easy for business leaders, as uncertainty surrounds the pace and scale of deploying climate solutions. But companies that assess and prepare for a net-zero economy could put themselves in a position for growth and positive impact. Click through the interactive to see what the transformation of different sectors would entail.
Recycling waste from apparel continues to be a lost opportunity—for reducing environmental impacts and creating value. Consider California, where roughly 740,000 tons of materials to produce apparel eventually enter landfills, the equivalent of an area five times the size of Los Angeles. Less than 1 percent resurfaces in future clothing via closed-loop recycling. A closed-loop recycling system for polyester alone could have a total holistic impact (economic, environmental, and social benefits) of up to $6.5 billion annually for the state. Our work on textile recycling shows that similar opportunities for value also exist in Europe.
With innovation comes responsibility
Web3, innovations in the space industry, AI ethics: technology continues to present growth opportunities for companies and raises important questions. Developing digital trust with consumers could be key going forward.
How might technology trends affect your organization? We explored 14—including digital and IT technologies, such as Web3, along with physical ones in areas such as energy and mobility—that could fuel advances in sectors from mobility to engineering to manufacturing and more. These changes could alter the competitive landscape and propel significant effects on society: reshaping markets, boosting productivity, and spurring economic growth. Click through the interactive to see how we’ve scored innovation and interest in each trend.
Semiconductors remain a hot topic. With chip demand set to rise over the coming decade, the global semiconductor industry could grow into a trillion-dollar market by 2030, with the automotive, data storage, and wireless industries accounting for about 70 percent of growth. As chip shortages have unveiled global supply chain vulnerability, the United States enacted the CHIPS Act, which is designed to boost US competitiveness, innovation, and national security.
Establishing trust in products and experiences that leverage AI, digital technologies, and data matters to consumers. According to a McKinsey survey of more than 1,300 business leaders and 3,000 consumers globally, companies that don’t deliver digital trust will find consumers taking their business elsewhere. Organizations that are best positioned to build digital trust, however, are more likely than others to see annual growth rates of at least 10 percent on their top and bottom lines.
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Our data-visualization editors Richard Johnson, Matt Perry, Jonathon Rivait, and Jessica Wang created many of the charts featured in this collection and choose the best of their creations for our daily Charting the Path to the Next Normal series. This collection was assembled by Mike Borruso, Christopher Friedmann, Richard Johnson, Stephen Landau, Katie Shearer, Andrew Simon, Amanda Soto, Sarah Thuerk, and Nathan Wilson.
This page is just part of our full year-end series celebrating the best of McKinsey Global Publishing in 2022. See the full collection at 2022 year in review.