Are older workers holding back the next generation?
The composition of the U.S. workforce is changing dramatically. People are living longer and healthier lives, allowing them to work beyond what was once considered a typical retirement age. At the same time, younger workers are trying to gain a foothold in a job market that increasingly values both experience and credentialing, even for entry-level positions that may not have required a degree in the past. This confluence of trends raises several issues, including whether Baby Boomers are displacing Millennials in the workforce or holding them back from advancement, the impact of underemployment on Millennials, the cost to employers of an aging workforce and what will happen once Boomers begin to retire in greater numbers.
Among the key takeaways:
Baby Boomers represent one-quarter of the labor force, and the average retirement age is higher than it was two decades ago.
Many Millennials are overskilled or overeducated for the jobs they are taking, which can have long-lasting effects on future employment prospects and earning potential.
Delayed retirements have both positive and negative effects for employers. Although they are able to retain experienced staff, they incur increased costs to maintain these older workers and must plan for the impending brain drain when they do retire.
Resources for Further Study
Burke, Ronald J., Cary L. Cooper and Alexander-Stamatios G. Antoniou, “The Multi-Generational and Aging Workforce: Challenges and Opportunities,” Edward Elgar Publishing, 2015. Experts discuss the changing American labor force, its challenges, opportunities and how to work and manage within it.
Taylor, Paul, “The Next America: Boomers, Millennials, and the Looming Generational Showdown,” PublicAffairs, 2016. A Pew Research Center senior fellow describes how the United States is shifting – socially, politically and demographically – due to current generational conflicts.
Carmichael, Sarah Green, “Millennials Are Actually Workaholics, According to Research,” Harvard Business Review, August 17, 2016, https://tinyurl.com/
Fry, Richard, “Millennials are the largest generation in the U.S. labor force,” Pew Research Center, April 11, 2018, https://tinyurl.com/
Lutz, Jessica, “The Underemployment Phenomenon No One Is Talking About,” Forbes, July 21, 2017, https://tinyurl.com/
Weise, Michelle, “First jobs matter: Avoiding the underemployment trap,” The Washington Post, June 1, 2018, https://tinyurl.com/
Reports and Studies
“America’s Aging Workforce: Opportunities and Challenges,” U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, December 2017, https://tinyurl.com/
“The Permanent Detour: Underemployment’s Long-Term Effects on the Careers of College Grads,” Strada Institute for the Future of Work and Burning Glass Technologies, May 2018, https://tinyurl.com/
“Why Employers Should Care About the Cost of Delayed Retirements,” Prudential Financial, 2017, https://tinyurl.com/
Blau, David M., and Bruce A. Weinberg, “Why the US science and engineering workforce is aging rapidly,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, April 11, 2017, https://tinyurl.com/
Carnevale, Anthony P., Andrew R. Hanson and Artem Gulish, “Failure to Launch: Structural Shift and the New Lost Generation,” Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, Sept. 30, 2013, https://tinyurl.com/
Copeland, Craig, “Labor Force Participation Rates by Age and Gender and the Age and Gender Composition of the U.S. Civilian Labor Force and Adult Population,” Employee Benefit Research Institute, May 8, 2018, https://tinyurl.com/
Sawyer, Bradley, and Nolan Sroczynski, “How do health expenditures vary across the population?” Kaiser Family Foundation, Dec. 1, 2017, https://tinyurl.com/
The Next Step
Hoffower, Hillary, “The ‘lost generation’ of millennials born in the 1980s may never be as rich as their parents,” Business Insider, May 22, 2018, https://tinyurl.com/
Sherman, Erik, “Underemployment Takes An Outsized Toll On The Economy, According To A New Study,” Forbes, Sept. 25, 2018, https://tinyurl.com/
Smith, Noah, “Why Millennials Are Sour on the Economy,” Bloomberg, Sept. 28, 2018, https://tinyurl.com/
“The doctor is out: Many millennials choose convenient drop-in clinics over traditional doctor’s offices,” ABC News, Oct. 9, 2018, https://tinyurl.com/
Fox, Ashley M., “Why Millennials Hate ‘Retirement,’ And What They Actually Need To Do Financially,’” Forbes, Sept. 21, 2018, https://tinyurl.com/
Pandey, Erica, “The future of student debt: How employers might help,” Axios, Oct. 11, 2018, https://tinyurl.com/
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